OAN Shannon Kelland
UPDATED 2:00 PM PT – Monday, February 6, 2023
Remnants of the Chinese spy balloon that was shot down over the weekend headed to the FBI lab at Quantico for examination. This comes amid political and diplomatic fallout that is on the rise in both Beijing and in Washington.
The balloon fell six miles off the coast of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina on Monday. No injuries were incurred but officials in the city asked beachgoers to report any findings to authorities.
“The balloon, which was being used by the PRC in an attempt to surveil strategic sites in the continental United States, was brought down above U.S. territorial waters,” DOD officials said.
On Monday, John Kirby, spokesman for the White House National Security Council, told reporters that the balloon is thought to be the fifth Chinese Communist Party surveillance balloon detected over the United States since 2017.
Allegedly, three of the five balloons crossed into U.S. territory during the Trump administration, and it was reported that there was another balloon during Biden’s presidency. Although, Kirby recognized that each of those incursions “was for brief periods of time, nothing at all like what we saw last week.”
Kirby confirmed that the three breaches were only discovered after Trump left office.
New information on features of the balloon were also revealed.
“This balloon has the ability to maneuver itself, to speed up, or slow down and to turn, so it has propellers … that allow it to change directions… it has the capability to loiter, and to introduce some limited maneuvers,” he said.
The size was about 200 feet tall, and with the attached load it weighed more than 2,000 pounds, It was comparable to the size of a regional jetliner.
The Chinese government insisted that the balloon, which moved across the country for the past week, was “a civilian airship used for meteorological and other research purposes.” They claimed that it then continued to blow off course directly across the entire United States. They were firm on their stance it was not a surveillance balloon.
Kirby, along with many others, had dismissed this explanation and believed that the balloon was collecting information “over sensitive military sites” in the United States.
A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman stated that the decision to shoot down China’s balloon over the Carolina coast was “unacceptable and irresponsible,” at a press conference in Beijing on Monday.
Republicans were displeased with the situation as it took a week for the balloon to be shot down. On the other hand, Democrats on the House of Representatives’ Select Committee on China have expressed alarm at the presence of the balloon and fear it will harm [international] relations.
Biden administration officials have yet to deliver a classified briefing on the balloon to the Republican and Democratic leaders of both the House and Senate.
Representative Ritchie Torres (D-N.Y.) said he was “alarmed” by reports from the Pentagon.
“This is a clear violation of American sovereignty and reminds us that the threats posed to our country by our chief adversary on the world stage do not stop overseas,” Torres said.
On Sunday, Senate Majority Leader, Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), announced that on February 15th there will be a briefing for the rest of the Senate.
Several congressional hearings on U.S.-China relations are also set to take place this week. One being, The Senate Foreign Relations Committee. The committee will hold a hearing on Thursday morning titled “Evaluating U.S.-China Policy in The Era of Strategic Competition.”