Biden says US will ‘handle’ suspected Chinese spy balloon


The US president’s comment comes after China called for “calm” over the balloon flying over the US.

President Joe Biden has said the United States will “take care” of a suspected Chinese spy balloon tracked by the US.

Biden made the comment Saturday in response to a question about whether Washington will shoot down the high-altitude surveillance balloon that has been flying across the country in what Washington calls a “clear violation” of US sovereignty.

The president, who has not previously spoken about the suspected spy balloon, did not comment on the plans.

Military leaders this week considered bringing down the high-altitude surveillance balloon, but ultimately advised against it due to the risk of falling debris, officials told Reuters news agency.

China regrets that an “airship” used for civilian meteorological and other scientific purposes has entered US airspace.

After the discovery of the balloon, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken postponed a visit to China that was expected to begin Friday.

Postponing Blinken’s trip, which Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping had agreed to in November, is a blow to those who saw it as an opportunity to stabilize an increasingly troublesome relationship. The last visit by a US Secretary of State was in 2017.

Beijing longed for a stable relationship with Washington so it could focus on its economy, battered by its now-abandoned zero-COVID policy.

China downplayed the cancellation of the Blinken visit on Saturday, saying neither side had formally announced such a plan.

“In reality, the US and China have never announced a visit, it is their own business that the US makes such announcements, and we respect that,” China’s foreign ministry said in a statement.

The ministry reiterated that the balloon’s journey was beyond China’s control and urged the US not to “smudge” it on the basis of the balloon.

Senior Chinese diplomat Wang Yi Wang said China “has always strictly followed international law, we do not accept unfounded speculation and hype. Faced with unexpected situations, both parties must remain calm, communicate in a timely manner, avoid misjudgments and deal with differences.”

The balloon was sighted over Montana on Wednesday and has traveled across the United States. It was seen over North Carolina Saturday morning, according to the commercial forecaster AccuWeather that has been tracking it.

The Pentagon said Friday that another Chinese balloon had been sighted over Latin America, without saying exactly where.

“We are now determining that it is another Chinese surveillance balloon,” Brigadier General Pat Ryder, Pentagon press secretary, said in a statement.

A spy balloon is literally a gas-filled balloon that flies quite high in the sky, more or less where commercial jets are flown.

A spy balloon generally has advanced cameras and imaging technology, and points all of those instruments toward the ground, gathering information through photography and other images of what’s on the ground below.

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