Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-AK) charged this week that the Pentagon turned down an early request to shoot down the Chinese spy balloon prior to it entering American airspace.
The senator alleged that the Pentagon delayed its shootdown of the Chinese spy balloon after it was first discovered.
Sullivan said that the 11th Air Force requested to shoot down the spy balloon prior to it entering U.S. airspace. The senator said that the balloon was investigated by F-22 and F-35 fighter jets.
However, the request to destroy the balloon before its entry into American airspace was denied. The balloon first entered American airspace over part of Alaska on Jan. 28. The military did not shoot down the balloon until it had completed its transit across the United States, destroying it on Feb. 4.
President Biden’s decision not to order the balloon’s immediate destruction was met with a flurry of conservative criticism. Republicans charged that not shooting the balloon down earlier allowed the Chinese government to spy on a number of sensitive nuclear and military sites.
The criticism of the White House also comes as China is making serious geopolitical moves. Beijing announced this week that it would increase its defense budget by 7.2% and comes during considerable speculation over Chinese threats regarding Taiwan.
CIA Director William Burns warned earlier this year that Beijing ordered its military to be prepared to invade Taiwan by 2027.
The White House announced that it would increase the number of American troops in the island country.
Chinese military craft have also become more aggressive near Taiwan, as well. This includes using 25 warplanes to test the defenses of Taiwanese forces.
China sends 25 warplanes, 3 ships sent toward Taiwan, island says https://t.co/fUSFj4fkJa
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The Biden administration is also under pressure regarding Chinese support for Russia in the war in Ukraine.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken received a flat refusal from a Chinese diplomat to apologize for sending the spy balloon over the United States.
The recent tension over the Chinese spy balloon will likely be met by further obstinacy from Beijing.