President Biden stands by decision to shoot down alleged Chinese spy balloon
President Joe Biden has defended the US's shooting down of an alleged Chinese spy balloon off the coast of the US. Biden said the balloon was used for surveillance, and announced that the US would improve its detection of similar aerial objects. China has denied the balloon was used for surveillance, instead saying it blew off course while collecting weather data. Mr Biden also said he would speak with China's President Xi Jinping soon about this month's incident.
US and China clash over spy balloon incident
The incident involving the alleged Chinese spy balloon has sparked tensions between the US and China. President Biden has defended the US's shooting down of the balloon, claiming it was used for surveillance. China has denied these allegations, stating that the balloon was collecting weather data. The US President also reiterated the view of US officials that the balloon was in fact used for spying.
US to improve detection of aerial objects
In response to the incident, President Biden announced that the US would improve its detection of similar aerial objects. He also said that the US was continuing to speak with China on the issue, and that the two countries were not looking for a new cold war. The President has been under increasing pressure to talk directly to the public about the alleged Chinese surveillance balloon, as well as the three unidentified objects American fighter jets have scrambled to destroy over the past week.
Three other objects shot down unlikely to be foreign spy craft
Speaking about three other objects subsequently shot down over Alaska, north-west Canada and Lake Huron on the US-Canada border, Mr Biden said the intelligence community believed they were "most likely balloons tied to private companies, recreation or research institutions". The president said enhanced radar introduced in response to the Chinese balloon might explain the discovery of the three objects.
Enhanced radar to distinguish between safety and security risks
President Biden has directed his team to come back to him with sharper rules for how the US will deal with these unidentified objects moving forward, distinguishing between those that are likely to pose safety and security risks that necessitate action and those that do not. The White House felt the need to dispel suggestions the three objects were of extra-terrestrial origin. Officials said the slow-moving unidentified objects did not pose "any direct threat to people on the ground" and were destroyed "to protect our security, our interests and flight safety".
Military officials intercept Russian jets flying near Alaska
Amid the heightened tensions over US skies, military officials said on Thursday that American warplanes had intercepted Russian jets flying near Alaska for a second time this week. The North American Aerospace Defense Command (Norad), which is jointly run by the US and Canada, said in a statement that it was a "routine" contact with the Russians.
President Biden has defended the US's shooting down of the alleged Chinese spy balloon and announced that the US will improve its detection of similar aerial objects. China has denied the allegations, sparking tensions between the two countries. Biden also directed his team to come back with sharper rules for how to deal with unidentified objects moving forward.