On Saturday, the U.S. military shot down a suspected Chinese spy balloon off the coast of Carolina after it flew over sensitive military sites in North America.
China claimed the flyover was a mistake made by a civilian aircraft and warned of consequences.
President Joe Biden issued an order to bring down the balloon, but he had initially wanted the operation to take place on Wednesday.
According to U.S. officials, he was advised that the most appropriate time for the operation would be when the balloon was over water.
China issued a threat in response, saying that it reserved the right to “take further actions” and criticized the U.S. for “an obvious overreaction and a serious violation of international practice.”
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs in China stated on Sunday that “China will resolutely uphold the relevant company’s legitimate rights and interests, and at the same time reserving the right to take further actions in response.”
Despite the military shooting down the spy balloon, many Republicans criticized President Biden’s response, asking why it took him so long to order the U.S. military to bring down the balloon and whether he was compromised.
“Allowing a spy balloon from China to travel across the entire continental United States before contesting its presence is a disastrous projection of weakness by the White House,” said Mississippi Sen. Roger Wicker, the top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., tweeted: “Now that this embarrassing episode is over, we need answers from the Biden Administration on the decision-making process. China was allowed to violate American sovereignty unimpeded for days.”
Television footage captured a minor explosion, after which the massive balloon plummeted toward the water, resembling a cascading ribbon.
Bill Swanson, who observed the deflation of the balloon from his residence in Myrtle Beach, stated that the deflation was swift as fighter jets orbited the area.
“When it deflated it was pretty close to instantaneous,” he reported. “One second it’s there like a tiny moon, and the next second it’s gone.”