US Shoots Down Chinese 'Spy' Balloon, Beijing Calls It an 'Overreaction'

The Pentagon said that an F-22 plane shot down the balloon with a missile on Saturday.

2 min read

Video Producer/Editor: Shohini Bose

The United States on Saturday, 4 February shot down a giant Chinese balloon that had allegedly been "spying" on key military locations across the country.

What did the US say? The Department of Defence said that an F-22 fighter jet shot down the balloon, that had been hovering over the US for the last few days. The balloon was targeted when it was off the coast of South Carolina.

President Joe Biden, who had been under pressure to order the shooting down of the balloon, congratulated the pilots who undertook the operation. "They successfully took it down. And I want to compliment our aviators who did it," Biden said while addressing the press in Maryland


US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin called it a "deliberate and lawful action" against China's "unacceptable violation of our sovereignty."

The US said that Saturday afternoon was its first chance to destroy the balloon "in a way that would not pose a threat to the safety of Americans." After the incident, authorities were tasked with collecting the fallen debris from the US' territorial waters, AP reported.

Footage purportedly showed the moment when the balloon was shot, after which it was seen falling to the sea.

How has China reacted? China, however, slammed the US over the incident, saying that it was "clearly overreacting."

"China will resolutely safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of relevant enterprises and reserve the right to make further necessary responses," the country's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement.

They also added that instead of responding in a "restrained manner," the US "insisted on using force."

The balloon had first entered US airspace on 28 January in Alaska. It then drifted into Canada and came back to the US a few days later.

China had earlier claimed ownership of the balloon, and said that it was a civilian craft designed for meteorological study that had gone off course.


“China regrets that the airship strayed into the United States due to force majeure. China will continue to maintain communication with the US to properly handle the unexpected situation caused by force majeure," the country had said in a statement.

(With inputs from AP.)

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Topics:  US    China 

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