US recovers Chinese balloon wreckage, rules out return to Beijing

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US recovers Chinese balloon wreckage, rules out return to Beijing

The United States government released on Tuesday (7) images of the operation carried out to rescue the wreckage of the Chinese high-altitude balloon off the coast of South Carolina. The photos were taken on Sunday (5), the day after the object was shot down by an American fighter.

John Kirby, spokesman for the US National Security Council, ruled out the possibility of returning parts of the artifact to China. He said that some debris had been recovered from the sea surface, but that weather conditions did not allow underwater operations to retrieve other debris.

The discovery of the balloon in US airspace has heightened tensions between the US and China. Washington claims that the object was a spying instrument, while Beijing says the artifact went off course because of wind currents and that it was used for research, especially meteorological.

The announcement led the US government to postpone the visit that the head of US diplomacy, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, would make to Beijing. He was due to meet the leader of the Chinese regime, Xi Jinping, in an attempt to move forward in the appeasement of tensions between the two greatest world powers.

Republicans have criticized US President Joe Biden for what they say was slow to order the downing of the balloon. According to Kirby, the delay was due to the fact that specialists were examining the object – the wreckage recovered on Sunday, he says, should reveal more information.

Without going into details, he added that before the object was destroyed, the US had implemented measures at sensitive military sites to mitigate the data collection capability the balloon would have.

According to Kirby, the government also contacted intelligence officials who worked in the previous administration to obtain information about the overflights of alleged Chinese balloons that took place during the Presidency of Donald Trump (2017-2021). According to the Pentagon, objects from China flew over US territory on three occasions during the Republican administration.

In the most recent episode, the Chinese high-altitude balloon entered a US identification zone for the first time on January 28. Three days later, it passed into Canadian airspace and returned to American airspace on the 31st.

Afterwards, the object flew over Billings, Montana, where a military base with intercontinental ballistic missile silos is located. It made a diagonal journey across the country, from Idaho to South Carolina, over the course of seven days. The US initially decided not to shoot down the balloon, arguing that the item has limited intelligence-gathering capabilities and that its wreckage could land in civilian areas.

General Glen VanHerck, head of the Aerospace Defense Command, said the balloon was approximately 60 meters high and was carrying a basket that weighed more than a ton.

Since the balloon was shot down, the United States has been in contact with Chinese officials, State Department spokesman Ned Price said. But, according to him, a new date for Blinken’s visit to Beijing has not yet been discussed.

This Monday (6th), China recognized ownership of another balloon that flew over Latin America and became public knowledge after an announcement by the US. According to the Xi Jinping regime, it is a civilian object used for flight tests.

When questioned, Mao Ning, spokesman for the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said that due to meteorological forces and limited maneuverability, the balloon deviated from the scheduled route and, inadvertently, headed for Latin America and the Caribbean.

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