Republican lawmakers criticize Biden’s handling of suspected Chinese balloon

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WASHINGTON: Republican lawmakers on Sunday criticized US President Joe Biden for waiting days to shoot down a suspected Chinese spy balloon as it hovered over the United States.

US Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell called the Biden administration’s decision to shoot down a Chinese spy balloon on Saturday “too late” and stressed that it allowed China to make a “mockery” of US airspace.

“As usual when it comes to national defense and foreign policy, the Biden Administration reacted at first too indecisively and then too late. We should not have let the People’s Republic of China make a mockery of our airspace,” Mitch McConnell said in a statement.

“This was a reminder of the PRC’s brazenness and President Biden missed the opportunity to defend our sovereignty, send a message of strength, and bolster deterrence,” he added.

Mitch McConnell expressed hope that the US administration will engage and assist America’s allies and partners so that they can better defend themselves against “brazen Chinese espionage” as there have been reports of China’s surveillance balloons in North America and other regions.

Republican lawmaker Mike Turner on Sunday accused the Biden administration of lacking urgency in handling the suspected Chinese spy balloon. In an interview with NBC News ‘Meet the Press’, Turner said that the US President taking down the balloon over Atlantic is like handling the quarterback after the game is over.

“The president taking it down over the Atlantic is sort of like tackling the quarterback after the game is over,” NBC News quoted Mike Turner as saying.

“This should never have been allowed to enter the United States and it never should have been allowed to complete its mission,” he added.

Republican Senator Marco Rubio has said that the Biden administration should have gone informed people about the Chinese balloon much earlier than it did. Speaking to CNN’s Jake Tapper, Rubio said that President can make a statement and explain these things early on.

“Presidents have the ability to go before a camera, go before the nation, and basically explain these things early on, and his failure to do so, I don’t understand that, I don’t understand why he wouldn’t do that,” Rubio told CNN’s Jake Tapper.

“And that is the beginning of dereliction of duty,” he added.

Earlier on Saturday, US President Joe Biden said that the mission to shoot down a suspected Chinese spy balloon off the East Coast on Saturday had been successful. Speaking to reporters in Maryland, Biden said that he had ordered the Pentagon to shoot down the balloon “as soon as possible.”

“On Wednesday, when I was briefed on the balloon, I ordered the Pentagon to shoot it down, on Wednesday, as soon as possible,” Biden said.

“They decided without doing damage to anyone on the ground. They decided that the best time to do that was as it got over water, outside and within the 12-mile limit.”They successfully took it down. And I want to compliment our aviators who did it. And we’ll have more to report on this a little later,” he added.

Meanwhile, US Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin in a statement said that US fighter aircraft shot down China’s surveillance balloon over the water off the coast of South Carolina in US airspace.

“This afternoon, at the direction of President Biden, U.S. fighter aircraft assigned to U.S. Northern Command successfully brought down the high altitude surveillance balloon launched by and belonging to the People’s Republic of China (PRC) over the water off the coast of South Carolina in U.S. airspace,” Lloyd Austin said in a statement.

He further said, “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.”

Lloyd Austin said that US President Joe Biden gave his   to take down the surveillance balloon “as soon as the mission could be accomplished without undue risk to American lives under the balloon’s path.”

Austin said that the US Department of Defence after careful analysis created options to shoot down the balloon safely over US territorial waters while closely monitoring its path and intelligence collection activities. He also thanked Canada for its support in tracking and analysis of the balloon as it transited North America. (ANI)

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