The White House is shooting down China’s claim the United States sent at least 10 spy balloons into its airspace over the last year.
National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby denied the allegations during an appearance on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” Monday.
“Not true. Not doing it. Just absolutely not true,” he said.
He added, “We are not flying balloons over China.”
Watch the video below:
"Not true. Not doing it. Just absolutely not true."
— National Security Council’s John Kirby categorically denies Beijing’s claim that the United States has flown its own spy balloons over China pic.twitter.com/Voelkhnjdd
— The Recount (@therecount) February 13, 2023
Kirby’s comments come hours after China accused the U.S. of sending at least 10 spy balloons into its airspace since 2022.
China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin claimed during a press briefing it is “common” for the U.S. to send spy balloons into other countries.
“The United States should first reflect on itself and change course, rather than slander, discredit or incite confrontation,” Wang said.
The allegation was made over a week after an F-22 shot down a suspected Chinese spy balloon off the coast of South Carolina.
After the incident, it seemed there might be a reason for the administration’s relatively timid response: perhaps the U.S. also flies spy balloons over countries, and officials were concerned coming out too hard against China wouldn’t look good if it came to light.
It is always good to take what government officials say with at least a little skepticism.
But the idea the U.S. has been flying spy balloons into China’s airspace without garnering a harsh response does not seem too plausible. They accused former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) of committing a “serious provocation” by visiting Taiwan last year.
So you might think they would have something to say about the U.S. floating balloons into their airspace.
It is also worth asking why it took them over a week to make this balloon allegation. You might expect they would have rolled it out earlier. Instead, China first claimed the balloon over the U.S. was a meteorological airship blown off course.
After the balloon was shot down, Chinese officials issued a lot of bluster — but again, there was no mention of the alleged 10 American balloons.
It would not be too surprising to find out the U.S. has deployed spy balloons over other countries. But China’s delay in the allegation, coming only after they were caught, seems more like a flailing attempt to save their image.
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