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Biden under pressure: What’s happening to the Chinese balloon?


Military experts and Republicans have criticized US President Biden for not having the alleged spy balloon from China shot down. The case worsens already tense relations with Beijing.

By Ralf Borchard, ARD Studio Washington

According to eyewitnesses and US media reports, the Chinese balloon has now been sighted over North Carolina. This is not officially confirmed. If so, the balloon could soon reach the Atlantic on its way from west to east, i.e. fly over water. Military experts speculate that President Joe Biden could still give the order to shoot down the balloon.

“This is a question for the president,” David Deptula, formerly of the US Air Force and now at the Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies, told CNN. “I think Biden is more likely to keep the balloon flying. In my opinion, it should have been shot down long before it entered US airspace.”

Republican criticism of Biden

The military expert thus reflects the demands of US Republicans in particular, who accuse Biden of not acting decisively and hard enough towards China. “Communist China is our enemy, Biden needs to wake up,” Republican Senator Tim Scott wrote on Twitter.

Speaking on CNN, China expert and author Gordon Chang also said: “We should have shot down the balloon. Because by not doing that, we’re convincing the Chinese that we’re incapable, that is, weak. That’s it what they already believe. That has been Beijing’s propaganda line for more than two years.”

Speaks of a “clear violation of our sovereignty”: US Secretary of State Blinken therefore canceled a trip to China.

Image: dpa

Blinken canceled China trip

Foreign Minister Antony Blinken responded by canceling his planned trip to China in the next few days. Blinken called the Chinese leadership’s behavior irresponsible:

Having this spy balloon in US airspace is a clear violation of our sovereignty and international law.

Washington maintains that it is clearly a balloon for espionage purposes, even if the leadership in Beijing continues to speak of a weather balloon for research purposes that was blown away by the wind.

There is no new official information on indications from the US Department of Defense yesterday that a second Chinese balloon had been sighted over Latin America.

In this balloon crisis, there are currently more question marks than clear answers. One thing is clear: The already tense relationship between the great powers USA and China has become even more difficult. The domestic political debate in the US over who will show the most toughness against their main rival China is picking up speed again.

Update on the US-China balloon crisis

Ralf Borchard, ARD Washington, February 4, 2023 5:19 p.m