President Joe Biden said he expects to speak with China’s president, Xi Jinping, about the spy balloon. The United States says it was a Chinese spy balloon that a U.S. fighter jet shot down early this month after it transited the United States.
Biden broke his silence on unknown aerial objects shot down over North America during the past week, assessing that they were “most likely” operated by private companies or research institutions rather than China.
Biden has said he makes no apologies for shooting down an alleged Chinese spy balloon off the coast of the U.S. He said the balloon was used for surveillance, but three other objects shot down over North America were unlikely to be foreign spycraft.
“I hope we are going to get to the bottom of this, but I make no apologies for taking down that balloon,” Biden said.
“We are not looking for a new cold war,” he said.
China has denied the balloon was used for surveillance, instead saying it blew off course while collecting weather data.
Biden reiterated the view of officials that the balloon, which traversed the country at an altitude of about 40,000 feet before being blown out of the sky by a fighter jet over the Atlantic, was in fact used for spying.
Biden has been under increasing pressure to talk directly to the public about the alleged Chinese surveillance balloon, as well as the three unidentified objects American fighter jets have scrambled to destroy over the past week.
While he has finally broken his silence on the matter, his brief appearance will likely not silence his critics or those who are asking for more information.
His tentative conclusion is likely to fuel criticism that his orders to take down the objects were an overreaction amid political pressure over the discovery of a suspected Chinese spy balloon that transited much of the country.
Biden, in his most extensive remarks about the Chinese balloon and three unidentified objects downed by U.S. fighters, did not say when he would speak with Xi but said the United States was continuing to engage diplomatically with China on the issue.