Washington recovers debris from the Chinese balloon, the controversy continues

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Teams deployed off the southeast coast of the United States have recovered some debris from the Chinese balloon on the surface of the sea, Washington announced on Monday, indicating that it had no “intent to return” the collected pieces to the sea. China. The American authorities nevertheless assure that they want to maintain the “open lines of communication” with Beijing.

The United States claimed on Monday February 6 to have recovered the first debris from the Chinese balloon, while the administration of Joe Biden has endeavored to contain the fallout from this episode both in the face of Republican opposition and vis-à-vis from Beijing.

“The question is not whether we trust China, the question is to decide where we can work together and where we are in opposition”, assured the American president, questioned by journalists on his return. to the White House.

Joe Biden also recalled having made the decision to shoot down the alleged Chinese spy balloon last Wednesday but that the American military had advised him to wait until the craft was over the Atlantic, in American territorial waters.

Washington did not directly respond to the Chinese government’s accusations on Sunday that the United States, by shooting down the balloon, which it presents as a civilian craft that has deviated from its trajectory, had “seriously affected and damaged” relations between the two country.

>> “Spy” balloon: “China will increase the pressure in its regional environment”

While defending its position of firmness, the United States even reiterated its desire to maintain “open lines of communication” with its great strategic rival. “Even in these times of heightened tension, we want the ability to pick up the phone and chat” with the Chinese, State Department spokesman Ned Price said Monday.

“Not a new Cold War”

He assured that the United States had had contact with the Chinese authorities since the downing of the balloon while specifying that no “discussion” had taken place on the rescheduling of the visit of the Secretary of State Antony Blinken in China.

National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, for his part, repeated Monday during a debate in Washington that “the United States is not seeking a new Cold War” with China.

The United States is in contact with its allies and partners to keep them informed of the elements collected around the alleged Chinese spy balloon, whose crossing of American territory captivated the country for several days.

Faced with Republican opposition quick to denounce the Biden administration’s weakness vis-à-vis China, White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby assured that the decision to wait before shooting down the balloon had given the Americans “a tremendous opportunity to better understand and study” the craft, while waiting for the debris to deliver further information. He also assured that the United States had “taken measures to limit the collection capabilities (of data) that this balloon would have had above our sensitive military sites”.

No question of returning the debris

Teams deployed off the coast of South Carolina, in the southeast of the country, “recovered some debris from the surface of the sea”, said John Kirby, adding that the “weather conditions” did not have allowed so far to carry out underwater recovery operations for this aircraft. The official also indicated that the United States did not “intend to return” the debris collected to China.

General Glen VanHerck, head of the North American Aerospace Defense Command (Norad), said a US Navy ship was surveying the radius in which the debris fell.

The balloon itself was about 60 meters high and carried a kind of basket weighing more than a ton, the official said at a separate press conference. The debris will be carefully studied, added the general.

Another twist: According to John Kirby, the Biden administration “contacted senior officials from the previous administration and offered them briefings” about the Chinese balloon overflights that took place while Donald Trump was president . According to the Pentagon, Chinese balloons flew over American territory three times, for brief periods, during the presidency of Donald Trump, and once, also for a short time, at the start of Joe Biden’s mandate.

With AFP

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