White House Shuts Down Pentagon Request To Display Chinese Spy Balloon to the Public

June 29, 2023

The Biden administration denied Defense Department requests to publicly share its findings on the Chinese spy balloon that earlier this year floated over most of the United States, according to a Thursday Wall Street Journal report.

"Parts of the U.S. military, including the Defense Intelligence Agency, wanted to put on public display parts of the balloon's debris," U.S. officials told the Journal. The White House, however, shut down that request.

The administration may be worried about how China would react to the release of those findings. "Chinese officials have expressed concern that should the U.S. investigators' report on the balloon become public, Beijing will be forced into a strong reaction, potentially derailing high-level engagement," the Journal reported.

Members of Congress have blasted the administration for not releasing the findings, with Republican senators Roger Wicker (Miss.) and Marco Rubio (Fla.) requesting more information.

The decision not to release findings comes as the Biden administration seeks détente with China, with Secretary of State Antony Blinken going so far as to say that conversation on the spy balloon "should be closed." The Chinese balloon entered Idaho airspace on January 31 and collected sensitive data from military sites across most of the United States, the Washington Free Beacon reported. President Joe Biden nonetheless said the incursion was "not a major breach" and refused to shoot down the balloon until it reached the Atlantic Ocean on February 4.

Even though the balloon collected intelligence, it "didn't appear to send that information back to China," officials told the Journal.

"The officials declined to say whether the craft malfunctioned, though the Pentagon has said the U.S. military employed countermeasures to prevent information collection," the Journal reported.

While the Biden administration aims to smooth over relations with the Chinese Communist Party, the president has sabotaged his own policy. Biden on June 21 called Chinese president Xi Jinping a dictator and claimed that Xi was embarrassed by the spy balloon incident. After China bristled at the comments, Biden said he would meet with Xi "sometime in the future."