Readers like you keep news free for everyone.

More than 5,000 readers have already pitched in to keep free access to The Journal.

For the price of one cup of coffee each week you can help keep paywalls away.

Support us today
Not now
Thursday 23 March 2023 Dublin: 10°C
Joe Granita
# China
White House says US has no intention of returning recovered balloon debris to China
It comes after Beijing confirmed earlier that a similar balloon spotted flying over Latin America is Chinese.

LAST UPDATE | Feb 6th 2023, 7:15 PM

THE UNITED STATES is in the process of recovering debris from the Chinese balloon out of the Atlantic for analysis by intelligence experts and there is no plan to give the remains back to Beijing, the White House has said.

“They have recovered some remnants off the surface of the sea and weather conditions did not permit much undersea surveillance of the debris field,” National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters, two days after a US fighter jet shot down the balloon, which had previously traversed the country.

US personnel will “in the coming days be able to get down there and take a better look at what’s on the bottom of the ocean, but it’s just started,” Kirby said, noting that the area where debris had scattered was “sizeable.”

China says the balloon was an errant weather observation aircraft with no military purpose. The US says the balloon was a sophisticated high-altitude spying vehicle.

After slowly traversing the middle of the United States, reportedly over several top secret military sites, the balloon headed out over the east coast, where President Joe Biden ordered it to be shot down.

Kirby said there was no intention to send the pieces back. “I know of no such intention or plans to return it,” he said.

The Biden administration is painting the incident as a provocative move by China that turned into something of an own goal by providing US intelligence services with valuable data.

According to Kirby, measures were taken to ensure the balloon’s instruments were “mitigated” in their ability to spy, while “at the same time increasing and improving our ability to collect intelligence and information from it.”

“We’re still analyzing the information that we were able to collect off of the balloon before we shot it out of the sky and now we’re going to recover it and I suspect we may learn even more.”

One detail already known, Kirby said, is that the balloon was not merely drifting but had propellers and steering to give a measure of control, even as it was swept along in the high altitude Jet Stream wind.

“It is true that this balloon had the ability maneuver itself — to speed up, to slow down and to turn. So it had propellers, it had a rudder, if you will, to allow it to change direction,” he said. “But the most important navigational vector was the jet stream itself, the winds at such a high altitude.”

Second balloon over Latin America

Beijing confirmed earlier today that a balloon spotted flying over Latin America is Chinese.

China has expressed fury at Washington’s decision to shoot down a device that it insists was an unmanned weather surveillance aircraft that had veered off course last week.

The country acknowledged today that the latest balloon, spotted by US and Colombian officials flying over Latin America at the weekend, was also Chinese.

Its foreign ministry said the device was of “a civilian nature and used for flight tests”.

“Affected by weather forces in addition to its manoeuvrability being limited, the airship deviated greatly from its expected course, and accidentally entered Latin American and Caribbean airspace,” spokesperson Mao Ning told a media briefing.

That statement came three days after what the Pentagon characterised as another Chinese spy balloon had been seen across Latin America.

Colombia’s air force reported at the weekend an object with “characteristics similar to those of a balloon” was detected and monitored until it left Colombian air space.

Investigations were being conducted in coordination with other countries and institutions to establish the object’s origins, it said.

© AFP 2023

Your Voice
Readers Comments
This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
Leave a Comment

    Leave a commentcancel