President Biden and his staff were aware for over a week that a Chinese spy balloon was hovering in U.S. airspace — but they kept the invasion hidden for fear of delaying Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s planned meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing.
Republicans were outraged at the president’s failure to act.
“Communist China’s surveillance balloon violates international law and threatens our homeland,” Rep. Nicole Malliotakis (R-Staten Island) told The Post.
“It’s an outrage that the Biden Administration spotted this balloon days ago as it was flying over the Aleutian Islands and did nothing about it,” she said. “The president has not even made a comment about this unacceptable act of aggression by the CCP.”
According to Bloomberg, the politics of the impending 2024 presidential election also played a factor in Biden’s actions, with the fragile US-China relationship set to be a significant foreign policy topic.
The balloon was discovered over Alaska by Team Biden on January 28, according to Bloomberg.
The US military followed it as it flew into Canadian airspace before returning to American skies on Tuesday. The following day, Biden was briefed in detail on the balloon and its trajectory, which was attended by Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley.
According to Bloomberg, Milley and Austin advocated against shooting down the craft because of the harm its debris could represent to the public. According to the source, Biden first wanted it destroyed but eventually agreed.
However, the president also chose to keep the problem from the American people. Instead, his administration sought clarification from the Chinese embassy in Washington, all while finalizing plans for Blinken’s diplomatic travel to China on Sunday.
The administration ultimately revealed the truth to the public on Thursday, after the Billings Gazette, a local Montana newspaper, released images of the floating orb and the story went viral.
“Not gonna lie,” tweeted witness Chase Doak, whose video of the high-flying spying platform went viral. “First, I thought this was a #ufo. Then, I thought it was @elonmusk in a Wizard of Oz cosplay scenario. But it was just a run-of-the-mill Chinese spy balloon!”
The outrage led Blinken to postpone his trip indefinitely, while China asserted that the “airship” was intended for meteorological study and had been blown off course accidentally.
Former President Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley have all asked that the balloon be shot down, accusing Biden of weakness in the face of Beijing.