U.S. shoots down suspected Chinese spy balloon over the Atlantic Ocean
The U.S. on Saturday shot down the large Chinese balloon that had flown high over the U.S. for days, sending the suspected surveillance object plunging into Atlantic waters off the Carolina coast.
Earlier in the day, President Biden had pledged to “take care” of the balloon, which had become the subject of American anxiety and diplomatic distress as it made its way from the heartland to the Eastern Seaboard, crossing over military stations.
The balloon, spotted over Montana earlier in the week, was flying over North Carolina early Saturday morning. American authorities apparently waited until the balloon reached the ocean so they could attempt a recovery of the object.
Biden said that he had asked the Defense Department on Wednesday to down the balloon as soon as possible, and that Pentagon officials had warned of risks to people on the ground.
“They decided that the best time to do that was when it got over water,” the president told reporters. “I want to compliment our aviators that did it.”
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America’s move to shoot the object down came after the Pentagon said it had assessed that a second Chinese spy balloon was flying over Latin America.
The spotting of the balloon above the continental U.S. led Secretary of State Antony Blinken to cancel a high-profile diplomatic visit to China.
The balloon saga, which dominated headlines in the U.S. over two days, was downplayed by Chinese authorities.
On Friday, the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement that the object was a civilian balloon used for meteorological research that had flown off course due to westerly winds and its “limited self-steering capability.”
With News Wire Services
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