Biden says he won’t apologize to Xi about downing of China balloon
Washington, Feb 16 (EFE).- President Joe Biden said Thursday he plans to speak to Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping about the alleged spy balloon that recently traversed several US states but will not apologize for ordering it shot down.
“I expect to be speaking with President Xi and I hope we are going to get to the bottom of this, but I make no apologies for taking down that balloon,” he told reporters Thursday at the White House.
The president added that he will not hesitate to bring down any flying object that poses a threat to the American people.
The Chinese balloon was detected in late January in United States airspace and was shot down over US territorial waters off the coast of South Carolina on Feb. 4.
It floated for days over several areas of the country including Montana, a northwestern state that is home to one of three US nuclear missile complexes.
The Chinese government, for its part, has said the balloon was a meteorological device that drifted into US airspace when it was blown off course.
Besides the alleged spy balloon, the Pentagon has downed three other unidentified flying objects this month over the US and Canada. Authorities from those two countries are investigating their origin.
Biden said Thursday that those other three objects do not appear to be linked to the Chinese balloon and that US intelligence officials believe they were “tied to private companies, recreation or research institutions studying weather or conducting scientific research.”
He added that there is no evidence of a sudden increase in the number of flying objects in US airspace and said more are being seen due to a change in the Pentagon’s radar settings.
The president said he has instructed his national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, to draw up new rules pertaining to the detection of aerial objects and incorporate them into the nation’s national security strategy.
After years of bilateral tensions during the 2017-2021 administration of US President Donald Trump, Biden and Xi met for the first time as heads of state last year at the G20 summit in Bali in a bid to get ties back on track and prevent the rivalry between the world’s two biggest powers from descending into open conflict.
The discovery of the alleged spy balloon, however, has revived tensions and prompted the Biden administration to postpone Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s planned trip to China earlier this month. EFE