The continuation of the saga of the alleged Chinese spy balloon : NPR
Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images
The ball fell.
On Saturday, the US military shot down a suspected Chinese spy balloon off South Carolina after it swept across much of the United States, attracting the attention of residents and the media.
China said the balloon was a meteorological research vessel that derailed and expressed “strong displeasure and protest” over its downing.
Now the US military must literally pick up the pieces of wreckage, as diplomats and members of Congress express concern over the incident.
Here is the last one:
US officials investigate balloon wreckage
Senior US officials say they were able to learn more about the Chinese surveillance balloon by tracking it around the country, and now they hope to learn even more by examining the pieces left after a fighter jet fired it. from the sky on Saturday.
At a briefing on Saturday, two US defense officials said they were working with the FBI and counterintelligence authorities to recover as much debris from the balloon as possible, including any equipment on board and “any material that had intelligence value”.
A senior defense official said the administration had several days to investigate what the ball was doing and how – as well as why China might have sent it in the first place.
“We don’t know exactly all the benefits that will come from it. But we have learned some technical things about this ball and its surveillance capabilities,” the senior defense official said. “And I think if we manage to recover certain aspects of the debris, we will learn even more.”
Authorities said they could use unmanned underwater vessels capable of lifting the structure to the surface and placing it on a rescue vessel. Navy divers were also available. The debris splashed in 47-foot-deep water, making the recovery effort easier than originally anticipated.
China denied the balloon was used for espionage and instead said it was carrying out weather research.
James Flaten, a University of Minnesota professor who works with NASA to teach students using high-altitude balloons, told NPR it’s possible a high-altitude balloon launched from China could reach the states. United States, but added that China might not have had much control over its trajectory at such high altitudes.
“I’m not saying they’re telling the truth,” Flaten said, “I’m just saying it’s a plausible story.”
US-China diplomacy is on hold again
The balloon’s intrusion into US airspace scuttled a planned meeting of senior US and Chinese officials, and it’s unclear if or when the trip will be postponed.
As the balloon hovered some 60,000 feet above the continental United States on Friday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken postponed a trip to China.
Although there has been speculation that China sent the ball over North America on purpose, some doubt the country was trying to provoke the United States just as it was due to host the highest country diplomat.
“China has an interest in inserting a little more stability into the relationship,” Dave Shullman, senior director of the China Global Hub at the Atlantic Council, told NPR. weekend edition.
Shullman said China hopes to mend its relationship with the United States as it grapples with thorny domestic issues, such as its continued efforts to stem the spread of COVID and reinvigorate its economy.
In this context, it would have been odd for China to intentionally sabotage Blinken’s trip, Shullman suggested. “I think they genuinely wanted this visit to go well,” he added.
Blinken said he was still ready to “go to Beijing as soon as conditions allow.” But Shullman noted that China’s annual legislative session is scheduled for March and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy will visit Taiwan in April, which could further strain U.S.-China ties.
The congressional response has followed party lines
Republicans criticized the Biden administration for not shooting down the balloon sooner, before it could cross several states and fly over sensitive military installations.
Representative Mike Turner of Ohio, Republican Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, told NBC Meet the press Sunday that he believes China was trying to gather intelligence on US military sites.
“If you look down the path and put X’s where all of our sensitive missile defense and nuclear weapons facilities are, I think they were trying to get information on how to defeat command and control of our nuclear weapons systems and our missile defense systems,” Turner said. “It’s a crisis.”
Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, Vice Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said during an appearance on ABC This week that he thinks China was trying to embarrass the United States and soften its power on the world stage.
“It was deliberate. They did it on purpose,” Rubio said. “The message they were trying to send is what they believe internally, and that’s that the United States is a once-great superpower that’s been gutted, that’s in decline.”
But the House Intelligence Committee’s top Democrat, Rep. Jim Himes of Connecticut, praised the Biden administration’s handling of the aerial incident.
“Despite all the silliness and cowardly posturing we endured, it was handled with textbook skill,” Himes said. tweeted. “We observed this thing and its capabilities, then we disassembled it to where it was safe and salvageable to the maximum for [counter-intelligence] purposes. Ours now.”
Representative of House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries thanked President Biden and the military for “putting the safety of the American people first.”