President Joe Biden is being accused of acting belatedly and indecisively as a suspected Chinese spy balloon hovered above the U.S.
In a statement Sunday, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said, “As usual when it comes to national defense and foreign policy, the Biden Administration reacted at first too indecisively and then too late. We should not have let the People’s Republic of China make a mockery of our airspace.”
“It defies belief to suggest there was nowhere between the Aleutian Islands of Alaska and the coast of Carolina where this balloon could have been shot down right away without endangering Americans or Canadians,” he continued. “This was a reminder of the PRC’s brazenness and President Biden missed the opportunity to defend our sovereignty, send a message of strength, and bolster deterrence.”
McConnell expressed his hope the administration will “engage and assist America’s allies and partners worldwide so they, too, can better defend themselves against brazen Chinese espionage.”
Whether it’s spy balloons or spy satellites, China’s military modernization effort is no joke. I hope President Biden’s belated decision to finally do the right thing carries over into a more serious approach to America’s top adversary. My full statement: https://t.co/fli9tLbe5v
— Leader McConnell (@LeaderMcConnell) February 5, 2023
Finally, the Kentucky Republican said, “I hope the President’s belated decision to finally do the right thing carries over into his soon-to-be-released annual budget request. Whether it’s spy balloons or spy satellites, hypersonic weapons or stealth aircraft, massive naval construction or nuclear stockpile expansion, China’s military modernization effort is no joke.”
“Last year President Biden proposed an absurd budget that would have cut defense funding after inflation. Let’s hope his budget proposal this year is more decisive, serious, and strong than the embarrassment that just played out in our skies,” he added.
Pentagon spokesperson Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder revealed on Thursday, “The United States government has detected and is tracking a high-altitude surveillance balloon that is over the continental United States right now.”
The balloon was hovering over Montana last week, and Pentagon officials considered shooting it down. However, there were concerns debris could hit people on the ground.
Ryder told reporters on Friday the balloon was hovering at about 60,000 feet. He added it is “maneuverable.”
China claims the object is a “civilian airship used for research, mainly meteorological, purposes” that has “limited self-steering capability” and “deviated far from its planned course.”
China’s Foreign Ministry issued a blistering statement in response to the downing of its balloon.
“China expresses its strong dissatisfaction and protest against the US’s use of force to attack civilian unmanned aircraft,” the statement said. “The Chinese side has repeatedly informed the US side after verification that the airship is for civilian use and entered the US due to force majeure – it was completely an accident.”
Here is the entire statement by China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs regarding the US shoot down of China's airship balloon today: pic.twitter.com/qNVw8Bd0gj
— Knightsbridge Research (@KBR_Intel) February 5, 2023
It continued, “China clearly asked the US to handle it properly in a calm, professional and restrained manner. A spokesman for the US Department of Defense also stated that the balloon will not pose a military or personal threat to ground personnel.”
Additionally, the statement vowed China will “resolutely safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of relevant companies, while reserving the right to make further necessary reaction.”
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