Donald Trump has called on the Pentagon to shoot down the Chinese spy balloon that Beijing says accidentally veered off course and ended up in the United States.
In a four-word, all-caps post on Truth Social on Friday morning, the former president wrote: “Tear down the balloon.”
A group of Republican lawmakers had earlier demanded that the Biden administration shoot the aircraft, which was seen flying near a Montana nuclear silo field, from the sky.
“Tear down. That. The Chinese spy balloon is a clear provocation. In Montana we don’t duck. We knock it down. shoot him”, tweeted Montana Republican Congressman Ryan Zinke.
The Pentagon decided not to shoot down the balloon out of concern that the debris could injure people on the ground.
A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman said Friday that the balloon was an unmanned meteorological research aircraft that had flown over the United States by accident.
The spokesman said China regrets the apparent involuntary entry of the aircraft into US airspace.
The balloon was sighted over the skies over Montana, which is home to one of three US nuclear missile silo fields at Malmstrom Air Force Base.
The diplomatic standoff came days before Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s first trip to Beijing this weekend.
Blinken’s visit has not been formally announced and it was not immediately clear what the impact of the balloon discovery would be on his travel plans, the Associated Press reported.
Senior defense officials in the United States said on Thursday that Washington had sent fighter jets, including F-22s, and was ready to shoot down the Chinese spy balloon seen in the skies, but ultimately decided against it.
Ultimately, the Pentagon recommended against it, noting that although the balloon was over a sparsely populated area of Montana, its size would create a debris field large enough to put people at risk, the official shared with the condition. of anonymity.
Montana Republican Sen. Steve Daines earlier called for an urgent safety meeting on the Chinese spy balloon.
In a letter to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, Daines said he was “alarmed” that the balloon was able to infiltrate US airspace early on and demanded answers from the Biden administration.
“It is vital to establish the flight path of this balloon, any compromised US national security assets, and any ground-based telecommunications or computing infrastructure within the United States that this spy balloon was using,” he wrote.
Translation of Michelle Padilla