China expressed strong dissatisfaction and opposition towards the US use of force to attack China’s “civilian unmanned airship”, Chinese Foreign Ministry said Sunday in a statement.
Earlier on Saturday, fighter jets shot down the balloon – which China claims was a civilian unmanned airship – that had been adrift across US airspace for days now.
“I ordered them to shoot it down,” President Joe Biden said on Saturday confirming the downing of the Chinese contraption that had gripped the country in a frenzy since Thursday, when the US department of defense had first made it public, acknowledging, at the same time, it was not first such incident.
President Biden said he had ordered the military to shoot it down on Wednesday in internal discussions preceding the public disclosure. Military leaders had recommended waiting because of fear of falling debris on civilian population underneath.
Further affirmation of the shooting of the balloon followed in a statement from Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin. “This afternoon, at the direction of President Biden, US fighter aircraft assigned to US Northern Command successfully brought down the high altitude surveillance balloon launched by and belonging to the People’s Republic of China (PRC) over the water off the coast of South Carolina in US airspace,” he said.
He added that the balloon was being “used by the PRC in an attempt to surveil strategic sites in the continental United States.
He reiterated that the president had ordered it to be shot down on Wednesday as soon as the mission could be accomplished without undue risk to American lives under the balloon’s path. “After careful analysis, US military commanders had determined downing the balloon while over land posed an undue risk to people across a wide area due to the size and altitude of the balloon and its surveillance payload,” Austin said further and added, “In accordance with the President’s direction, the Department of Defense developed options to take down the balloon safely over our territorial waters, while closely monitoring its path and intelligence collection activities.”
The balloon was shot down just after it left the mainland and was above water, off the coast of South Carolina.