US President Joe Biden has defended the launch of a suspected Chinese spy balloon - but at the same time is seeking talks with Beijing. "I don't apologize for shooting down this balloon," Biden said in Washington on Thursday. China has violated the sovereignty of the United States. That is unacceptable. At the same time, he expects to speak to his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping.
Biden emphasized that the shooting down was necessary to send a clear message to Beijing. The US did not seek conflict with China and did not want a new Cold War. It's just a matter of competition between the two states. "Our diplomats will remain engaged and I will keep in touch with President Xi." Before Biden's speech, China had again reacted angrily to the allegations from Washington. "The US cannot demand communication and dialogue on the one hand while exacerbating differences and escalating the crisis on the other," Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said.
The US accuses Beijing that the balloon was part of a whole fleet of spy balloons that China used to spy on more than 40 countries on five continents. Beijing also rejects this.
Almost two weeks ago, the US military shot down a suspected Chinese spy balloon off the coast of the state of South Carolina over the Atlantic. The US government accuses China of using it to spy on military facilities. Beijing, on the other hand, spoke of a civilian research balloon that had gone off course - the Chinese government saw the launch as an "overreaction". The incident caused additional tension in the already strained relationship between the two countries.
Shortly after launching the balloon, the US military pulled three more mysterious flying objects from the sky - one over Alaska, one over Canada and one over Lake Huron in the northern United States. Since then there has been speculation about the origin and purpose of the flying objects. However, there could be a very banal explanation for this.
Biden made it clear that the three objects shot down after the balloon were unlikely to be connected to "China's spy balloon program." There is also nothing to suggest that they were traveling for espionage purposes on behalf of another country. According to the intelligence services, they most likely belonged to private companies or research institutions and were on the road for research purposes, the US President continued.
After the shooting down, Biden had trouble explaining himself. The debris from the three objects has still not been recovered. Politicians from the Democrats and Republicans had demanded more transparency from the President. It was the first time that Biden had specifically scheduled an appearance on the subject.
The Democrat stressed that there was "no evidence of a sudden increase in the number of objects in the sky." After the launch of the Chinese balloon, however, the radars were sensitized so that more objects became visible. The US government justified the shooting down of the three mysterious flying objects, among other things, by saying that they posed a danger to air traffic.