VP Harris Says Downing of Spy Balloon Shouldn’t Impact Relations With China

VP Harris Says Downing of Spy Balloon Shouldn’t Impact Relations With China
Vice President Kamala Harris gives remarks on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, on Sept. 13, 2022. (Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)
Samantha Flom
2/15/2023
Updated:
2/15/2023
Vice President Kamala Harris doesn’t think the United States’ decision to shoot down a Chinese spy balloon will impact relations between the two countries.
“I don’t think so, no,” Harris told Politico in a Feb. 14 interview, during which she addressed an array of topics from the war in Ukraine and judicial reforms in Israel to the 2024 presidential election.
The balloon in question was first spotted over an airfield in Montana on Feb. 1. Three days later, amid mounting pressure on the Biden administration to down the spy craft, the object was shot from the sky by a U.S. fighter jet off the coast of South Carolina.
Although U.S. officials have since confirmed the balloon to be part of a Chinese spy program targeting the United States and its allies, the Chinese government has maintained that the balloon was a civilian airship that inadvertently entered U.S. airspace after being blown off course.

Reiterating that claim at a Feb. 15 briefing, China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin asserted that the United States had “overreacted” in shooting down the balloon. And, despite Harris’s Tuesday remarks, Wenbin vowed that the move would be met with “countermeasures” from China.

Meanwhile, in Washington, Republican lawmakers have characterized the episode as a “wake-up call” for Americans as to the serious threat posed by China’s espionage efforts.

Noting that the surveillance balloon flew over sensitive U.S. military sites like Offutt Air Force Base, home to U.S. Strategic Command (STRATCOM), Rep. Mike Flood (R-Neb.) said he felt the gravity of the situation had yet to be fully grasped by some.

“I represent the first district of Nebraska, home to STRATCOM, where we really command the nation’s nuclear triad,” Flood said. “And we have a balloon surveilling us from our enemies in China. And it seems to be lost that they are, you know, basically, brazenly attempting, and I think, are successful in getting as much data as they can about our sensitive military sites.”

The danger doesn’t stop there, the congressman added, holding that China seeks to “groom” the American public to be more accepting of the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) narrative through seemingly innocuous channels like TikTok.

“They’re building a relationship with teenagers and young adults and young Americans, and they’re going to cultivate that relationship for 10 years, and longer,” he said. “Let’s imagine something happens in Taiwan. The first thing they’re going to do is they’re going to attempt to influence the opinions of Americans after they take or make a brazen act. Everything they’re doing is grooming Americans for their control, you know—not tomorrow, not next week, but down the road.”

Three additional flying objects were shot down by the U.S. military within the last week, though the government has not established a link between those objects and China.

“The intelligence community’s considering as a leading explanation that these could just be balloons tied to some commercial or benign purpose,” John Kirby, spokesperson for the White House’s National Security Council, told reporters on Tuesday, asserting that the unidentified objects were not used for surveillance.

“I want to caveat that we haven’t found the debris,” he added. “We’re still doing the best we can with the observations that were made by the pilots, with the flight profile data that we’ve tried to collect.”

Samantha Flom is a reporter for The Epoch Times covering U.S. politics and news. A graduate of Syracuse University, she has a background in journalism and nonprofit communications. Contact her at [email protected].