Analysis by WorldTribune Staff, February 3, 2023
Editor’s Note: The following report has been updated: The United States shot down the Chinese balloon off the South Carolina coast on Feb. 4, after it had left U.S. territory.
The strategy of confronting China embraced by President Donald Trump vs. the capitulation to the communists of the Biden regime played out in real time via the saga of the Chinese spy balloon hovering over sensitive U.S. military facilities, observers say.
Trump said the U.S. should simply shoot it down.
Team Biden, via Pentagon spokesman Pat Ryder, said on Friday that it would not shoot down the spy balloon, opting instead to “monitor” it.
“In terms of the discussions of whether or not to shoot down this balloon, that was an option. It was something that was taken into consideration… Because we assess that it currently does not pose a physical or military risk to people on the ground, for now we are continuing our monitor and review options,” Ryder said.
Asked how long the balloon could stay above U.S. territory, Ryder said that it would loiter above for “a few days,” and that it will continue to be monitored.
Asked what data the balloon would be able to collect, Ryder said he would not divulge information. “Once the balloon was detected, we acted immediately to protect against the collection of sensitive information, and I’ll just leave it at that.”
Following the downing of the balloon Saturday, the reaction on social media was scornful.
Shooting down the balloon *after* it completes it’s mission is exactly what you’d expect Biden to do if he needed to ask Xi’s permission first
— Jack Posobiec 🇺🇸 (@JackPosobiec) February 4, 2023
Friday, the State Department said the Secretary of State Antony Blinken has been communicating with his Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi, regarding the spy balloon and the U.S. government is maintaining open lines of communication with communist China.
Top Republicans on the House Foreign Affairs Committee demanded that Blinken confront Chinese leader Xi Jinping over the spy balloon during his trip to China, calling it an “unacceptable” violation of U.S. airspace and American sovereignty.
Arkansas Republican Sen. Tom Cotton said “Secretary Blinken should cancel his trip to China,” adding that Joe Biden “must answer why he has not secured U.S. airspace.”
Blinken’s staff responded.
Senior State Department officials said Friday that Blinken’s trip, which was never formally announced, has been indefinitely postponed and that the presence of the Chinese surveillance balloon in U.S. airspace is “a clear violation of our sovereignty, as well as international law.”
“It is unacceptable that this has occurred. After consultations with our interagency partners, as well as with Congress, we have concluded that the conditions are not right at this moment for Secretary Blinken to travel to China,” a senior official said.
Meanwhile, Washington Examiner columnist Paul Bedard noted on Friday, citing intelligence officials, that “High-altitude balloons, such as the one China has floated over mountain state military bases this week, are considered a key ‘delivery platform’ for secret nuclear strikes on America’s electric grid.
“Spy balloons, used by Japan to drop bombs during World War II, are now far more sophisticated, can fly at up to 200,000 feet, evade detection, and can carry a small nuclear bomb that, if exploded in the atmosphere, would shut down the grid and wipe out electronics in a many-state-wide area,” Bedard noted.
REPORTER: “Does the public not have the right to know?”
PENTAGON: “The public certainly has the ability to look up in the sky and see where the balloon is.”
— Benny Johnson (@bennyjohnson) February 3, 2023