Republicans slam Kamala Harris’ ‘incredibly incompetent’ claim spy balloon won’t impact Chinese relations – and White House ‘appeasement’ is causing chaos
- Republican lawmakers are tearing into the vice president over comment she made in an interview to Politico regarding the suspected Chinese spy balloon
- The device was downed by US fighter jets off the South Carolina Coast on Feb. 4
- State Secretary Antony Blinken canceled his Beijing trip just days later
The suspected surveillance device was shot down by American fighter jets off the coast of South Carolina on February 4, after already traversing several US states at a low enough altitude to be seen by the naked eye – alarming millions across the country.
It comes at a time of historically strained diplomatic relations between the US and China.
Asked whether the balloon incident impacts that relationship, Harris told Politico: ‘I don’t think so, no.’
‘Everything that has happened in the last week and a half is, we believe, very consistent with our stated approach,’ Harris explained.
Vice President Kamala Harris (left, next to House Speaker Kevin McCarthy) downplayed the suspected Chinese spy balloon’s effect on Washington and Beijing’s relationship
In this U.S. Navy handout, Sailors assigned to Assault Craft Unit 4 prepare material recovered in the Atlantic Ocean from a high-altitude balloon for transport to federal agents at Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek Feb. 10, 2023
She said that approach was an aim for ‘competition, but not conflict or confrontation.’
‘What an incredibly incompetent thing to say,’ Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) wrote on Twitter Wednesday in response to Harris’ answer on the balloon.
‘The CCP spies on Americans without fear of the repercussions, & [Harris] is acting like it’s no big deal!?’
He accused the Biden administration of pursuing a policy of ‘appeasement’ with Beijing’s increasingly authoritarian government, which he said was ‘creating chaos.’
‘Kamala Harris said the Chinese spy balloon that flew across our country and spied on Americans doesn’t impact our relations with China,’ wrote Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN).
‘It sounds like the Biden administration won’t be getting tough on Communist China.’
Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-TX) also expressed outrage at Harris’ interview.
‘This administration has no desire or strategy to deal with China. It’s appalling,’ Crenshaw said Wednesday.
Florida GOP Senator Rick Scott called Harris’ comments ‘incompetent’
Tennessee Sen. Marsha Blackburn said the administration ‘won’t be getting tough on China’
The balloon was first detected above American airspace on January 28, then briefly entered Canada’s territory before eventually drifting back to the US.
President Joe Biden had given the order to shoot it down when it was above the continental United States, but was cautioned against seeing it through for fear of Americans getting injured by fallen debris.
Republicans have accused the White House of not acting swiftly enough, but Pentagon officials have said they gained valuable intelligence about Beijing’s vast surveillance program as the balloon traversed the country.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken cancelled his planned diplomatic trip to China amid the unfolding furor.
The Senate is scheduled to receive a classified briefing on the suspected spy balloon on Wednesday afternoon.
On Tuesday, lawmakers were briefed on the shoot-downs of four objects within eight days.
Beijing’s device was the first incident, but little has since been discovered about the latter three objects.
The White House announced on Friday that the US military had shot down an unknown object over Alaska. Then US jets were used in the NORAD takedown of another object over the Yukon wilderness on Saturday.
Another unknown device that briefly shut down airspace over Montana on Saturday night was downed over Lake Huron in Michigan on Sunday.