China Threatens To Retaliate Over Downed Spy Balloon

Chinese president Xi Jinping / Getty Images
February 6, 2023

China on Sunday threatened to retaliate against the United States after the Biden administration waited at least four days to shoot down a Chinese spy balloon that floated near several military and nuclear sites.

"China strongly disapproves of and protests against the U.S. attack on a civilian unmanned airship by force," China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement, adding that the Chinese Communist government could take "further responses if necessary."

The spy balloon on Tuesday crossed into the continental United States and was observed crossing over military bases in Montana, which have nuclear missile silos. After the airship traveled across the entire country, the military on Saturday shot down the vessel off the coast of South Carolina.

China said the shoot-down was a "clear overreaction and a serious violation of international practice." The Chinese government has maintained that the balloon was for "meteorological research."

China's threat toward the Biden administration comes as Secretary of State Antony Blinken delayed his trip to Beijing, where he was expected to meet this week with Chinese president Xi Jinping. China in a statement downplayed the cancellation, saying the countries had "never announced any visit" and Blinken's decision is America's "own business."

Taking advice from the Pentagon, Biden allegedly waited to down the balloon until it was above open water to avoid harming civilians with debris, according to some reports. Republicans criticized Biden's inaction, with former secretary of state Mike Pompeo writing in the Washington Free Beacon that Biden's "weakness with China is once again on display."

"Biden must reassert American resolve, not continue to peddle American weakness," Pompeo wrote.

Rep. Joe Wilson (R., S.C.) on Saturday called for Biden to resign over the spy balloon debacle.

"The catastrophic Chinese Spy Balloon spectacle clearly threatened American families from Alaska to my home community in South Carolina and confirms President Biden and Vice President Harris should resign," Wilson said after the balloon was shot down off the coast of his state.