Chinese Surveillance Balloon

Furthering friction between the U.S. and China.

Suspected Chinese surveillance balloon being shot down off the coast of South Carolina.

Chad Fish via the Associated Press

Suspected Chinese surveillance balloon being shot down off the coast of South Carolina.

Andrew Perry, Sports Editor

On Friday, Feb. 3, a balloon was spotted off the coast of the Carolinas, and many Americans wondered what it could have been. The balloon caused hysteria within the U.S. and sparked fear in the military and politicians as no one knew what it was. The next afternoon, Langley Air Force base in Hampton, Virginia sent out an F-22 to shoot the balloon down with a single missile. 

The United States claimed this to be a spy balloon that was sent by the Chinese government to gain military intel. The Chinese military and politicians came out and said that this was not the case, that it was in fact just a civilian research vessel that was being used to conduct weather research. 

After the balloon was shot down, divers from the U.S. Navy attempted to recover debris from the balloon which could have been spread several miles in whole.

“When I was briefed on the balloon, I ordered the Pentagon to shoot it down on Wednesday as soon as possible,” President Joe Biden said after disembarking Air Force 1 when interviewed by numerous news reporters. “[The Pentagon] decided the best place to shoot it down was when it was over water.” 

It was said that the U.S. government knew about the balloon a week before it was disclosed on the news, causing a lot of backlash. Many believed it was unfair to the people, because if this balloon was potentially harmful, then the citizens would be let in harm’s way when the government could have released something that makes the citizens more involved for safety purposes. 

President Biden is also getting backlash from Republicans on Capitol Hill for waiting so long to shoot it down, as well as backlash from fellow Democrats. It was said that he wanted to do the safest thing by waiting for the balloon to get over water then shoot it down, to keep a majority of U.S. citizens safe. 

Now, since the balloon is out of the sky, it is an appropriate time to examine it. U.S. Senators have a scheduled hearing to examine the contents and the spy balloon as a whole on Feb. 15.