Why Hasn't the Military Shot Down the Suspected Chinese Spy Balloon?
A suspected Chinese reconnaissance balloon was reportedly spotted over Kansas City, Missouri on Friday as it continued moving eastward. Why didn’t the military shoot it down?
Key Quotes: On Thursday, a senior defense official said the balloon had not been shot down because the risks outweighed the rewards — the balloon “was large enough to cause damage from the debris field if we downed it over an area,” and “it does not create significant value added over and above what the PRC is likely able to collect through things like satellites in Low Earth Orbit.”
For Context: The balloon’s arrival comes at an inopportune time for U.S.-China relations; on Friday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken postponed a planned trip to Beijing. While China claimed the balloon was a civilian craft that got swept off-course by wind currents, the Pentagon appeared to dismiss this claim, stating that the balloon was “maneuverable.”
The Controversy: Many Republican politicians urged the Biden administration to shoot the balloon down, including Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Flo.) and former President Donald Trump. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy called for an intelligence briefing over what he called a “brazen disregard for U.S. sovereignty.” Montana Democratic Sen. Jon Tester also issued a forceful statement, condemning the “provocation” and pledging to “hold everyone accountable.”
How the Media Covered It: Analyses of why the balloon had not been shot down were more common in left and center-rated outlets. Coverage of Republican criticisms was common across the spectrum, particularly in right-rated outlets.
Featured Coverage of this Story
From the RightPence, Pompeo and Haley demand Biden ‘shoot down’ Chinese spy balloon
A trio of would-be 2024 Republican presidential candidates insisted Friday that the Biden administration should bring down a Chinese spy balloon as it traveled over the central US.
Former Vice President Mike Pence, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and former Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley accused President Biden of appearing weak in the face of the incursion by Beijing.
“Shoot down the Chinese spy balloon,” Pence tweeted. “Go ahead and send the Secretary of State to China next week.
“Have @SecBlinken Look them in the eye and tell...
From the LeftWhy doesn’t US military shoot down the Chinese ‘spy’ balloon?
The US military has said it does not currently plan to shoot down the alleged Chinese spy balloon as it does not pose a threat militarily or to civilians, but that targeting it could create a huge amount of potentially dangerous debris.
At the same time, it said it was monitoring the path of the balloon as it tracked eastwards across the US.
As Secretary of Sate Antony Blinken postponed a visit to Beijing amid a spike in tensions since the Pentagon revealed it was tracking the object, China has said it is a weather monitoring device and apologised.
From the CenterBusting That Chinese Spy Balloon Is Harder Than You Think
The Pentagon has been tracking a suspected Chinese surveillance balloon which flew over sensitive areas in Montana in recent days, apparently the latest of several such incursions. President Biden reportedly proposed that the intruder be shot down, but the Pentagon opposed this action, citing the risk of civilian casualties.
In fact, bringing down this type of balloon may be extremely difficult, as it is likely to be highly resistant to the available weapons. It may look fragile, but the sheer size and construction of a stratospheric balloon makes it all but invulnerable.
March 24th, 2023
"The Conversation" Contributor
March 24th, 2023