On Saturday, the United States fired down a suspected Chinese surveillance balloon that had been sighted over US airspace off the coast of South Carolina.
The recovery of debris from the balloon in the Atlantic Ocean is currently ongoing.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin stated that the decision was made at the request of US Vice President Joe Biden.
“U.S. fighter aircraft assigned to U.S. Northern Command successfully knocked down the People’s Republic of China (PRC) high altitude surveillance balloon,” he said in a statement. “The balloon, which was being utilised by the PRC in an attempt to observe strategic areas in the mainland United States, was brought down above U.S. territorial seas.
“On Wednesday, President Biden gave his approval to take down the surveillance balloon as soon as the mission could be completed without putting American lives in jeopardy,” it stated. “Today’s determined and legitimate action illustrates that President Biden and his national security team will always prioritise American people’s safety and security while properly reacting to the PRC’s abhorrent violation of our sovereignty.”
The action happened after Biden stated that his government would “take care” of the balloon.
The sighting sparked diplomatic tensions, with Washington accusing China of violating its sovereignty and Beijing blaming it on a “unintended incursion” by a “civilian airship employed for research.”
Following the “irresponsible act,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken postponed his planned trip to China.