Balloon was not a major security breach - Biden

time:2023-06-02 12:48:25source:Al Jazeera author:Press center8

US President Joe Biden has said he does not believe the suspected Chinese spy balloon that flew over US airspace was a major security breach.

Mr Biden told news programme Noticias Telemundo on Thursday that he does not regret how he handled the situation.

The balloon was shot down over the Atlantic after it had travelled across the US.

Some lawmakers have criticised the president for not destroying it sooner.

"It's not a major breach," Mr Biden said, adding that it was "a violation of international law. It's our airspace. And once it comes into our space, we can do what we want with it".

He said the military was concerned that destroying the craft over land would have put people on the ground at risk.

"They made a wise decision. They shot it down over water, they're recovering most of the parts, and they're good," he said.

Speaking to the BBC, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said it would be difficult to say how the US might handle another situation like this one.

"I'm certainly not going to get into how the intelligence community or the Pentagon moves forward with this programme and how they assess," she said.

On Thursday, the House of Representatives passed a non-binding resolution calling the balloon a "brazen violation" of US sovereignty, a move dismissed by China as "purely political manipulation and hyping up".

"China is strongly dissatisfied with this and firmly opposes it," Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning told reporters on Friday.

The balloon first entered US airspace on 28 January over Alaska and was shot down last weekend off the coast of South Carolina, where its pieces are still being salvaged by the US Navy.

China has denied the balloon was used for spying purposes, saying it was a weather device gone astray.

The US, however, said the balloon is part of a fleet of surveillance balloons that have flown over five continents.

The balloon incident has strained US-China relations, with Secretary of State Antony Blinken last week cancelling a planned trip to Beijing.

It would have been the first high-level meeting of American and Chinese officials there in years.

China said it has also refused a call from US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin after the US shot down the balloon.

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