The United States shot down the Chinese “spy balloon” which flew over its territory

Published on : 04/02/2023 – 20:57Modified : 04/02/2023 – 22:59

The United States shot down the Chinese balloon that had been flying over their territory since Friday on Saturday, according to American media. Air traffic had been suspended earlier at three airports in the southeastern United States as a “national security” measure.

“We will take care of it,” warned the American president. The United States shot down, on Saturday February 4, the Chinese balloon which had been flying over their territory since Friday, several American media reported.

The balloon, which the Pentagon claims was a spy balloon, was shot down by the US military off the east coast of the United States, according to Fox News and CNN.

On videos broadcast by television channels, the ball seemed to fall vertically.

A fighter jet shot down the Chinese balloon in response to an “unacceptable violation” of US sovereignty, US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin later commented.

“After careful analysis, U.S. military commanders determined that shooting down the balloon while it was above the ground posed an undue risk to people…given the size and altitude of the balloon and its surveillance cargo,” he said.

This is why the army waited to be able to shoot it down “safely above our territorial waters, while closely monitoring its route and its information-gathering activities”.

Air traffic had been suspended earlier at three airports in the southeastern United States as a “national security” measure, according to the American civil aviation regulator (FAA).

“The FAA has suspended departures and arrivals at Wilmington Airport (North Carolina), Myrtle Beach International Airport and Charleston International Airport (South Carolina) as part of a national security taken by the US Department of Defense,” she announced in a statement.


US President congratulates pilots

Joe Biden praised the pilots who “successfully” shot down the Chinese balloon.

“I ordered the Pentagon to shoot it down on Wednesday as soon as possible (…) I want to congratulate the pilots who did it,” the US president told reporters. The Pentagon had to wait until Saturday for the safest place to carry out this operation, off the American coast.

According to US media, citing unnamed sources, Washington was planning to shoot down the craft over the Atlantic Ocean.

On Saturday, the Chinese balloon was seen over South Carolina, media also reported.

“We will take care of it,” said Joe Biden, without offering further details. At the beginning of the afternoon, the American president, to whom journalists asked if he was going to give the order to shoot down the balloon, had replied by simply giving a thumbs up.

This affair, which has cast a chill over relations between Washington and Beijing, has caused the postponement of a visit by the head of American diplomacy Antony Blinken to China.

“Analyze the technology used” by China

On Thursday, the Americans had learned of the existence of this balloon over Montana in the northwest of the United States, which is home to nuclear missile silos. He then gradually moved towards the east of the country.

Beijing acknowledged that it was indeed a device from China, but assured that it was a “civilian aircraft, used for research purposes, mainly meteorological”.

The machine would have “deviated from its trajectory”, added a spokesman for the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, expressing the “regrets” of his country for this “involuntary” violation of American airspace.

“I salute President Biden’s leadership for shooting the Chinese balloon over water to keep all Americans safe,” Senate Democrat Leader Chuck Schumer tweeted. “Now we can collect the equipment and analyze the technology used” by China, he added.

On Friday, the Pentagon said a second Chinese balloon had been spotted over Latin America.

With AFP