Most voters believe President Joe Biden’s administration moved too slowly in taking down the Chinese spy balloon, which slowly made its way across the country before the U.S. military shot it down off the Carolina coast, a recent Harvard Caps/Harris survey found.
The U.S. shot down the Chinese spy balloon — which China initially asserted to be a civilian airship researching weather — earlier this month after it had already meandered its way across several states, above key military sites.
Just shot at it! View from my house in Myrtle. pic.twitter.com/85EZ3EDbYq
— Ashlyn Preaux for SC 61 (@ashlynforsc) February 4, 2023
Biden claims he gave the go ahead days prior, and Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III reiterated that claim in a statement, asserting the president “gave his authorization 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.”
According to the survey, most, 79 percent, heard about the Air force taking down the Chinese surveillance balloon, and most believe it to be a “challenge to U.S. sovereignty by China,” “an espionage threat,” and “a threat to commercial aircraft” as well.
A majority, 63 percent, of voters believe the Biden administration “acted too slowly” in taking down the balloon, compared to 37 percent who believe the administration acted in a “measured way.” A plurality of voters also believe Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s action — canceling his trip to China — was not enough.
The survey also asked about other unidentified “aerial objects” that have since been spotted but taken down by the U.S. Air Force since the China spy balloon’s demise. Most, 59 percent, believe those are also Chinese spy balloons, and 82 percent support a congressional investigation into the matter. Seventy-seven percent also support taking “punitive action” on China due to the communist country’s latest moves.
However, Biden last Thursday cast doubt on that idea, contending the likely balloons were not tied to Chinese surveillance.
“We don’t yet know exactly what these three objects were. But nothing, nothing right now suggests they were related to Chinese spy balloon programs or they were surveillance vehicles from other any other country,” Biden said, citing the intelligence community, which believed that the balloons were “tied to private companies, recreation or research institutions studying weather or conducting other scientific research.”
More recently, Air Traffic Control (ATC) confirmed a white balloon spotted northeast of Hawaii, flying at 40,000 to 50,000 feet.
Meanwhile, China maintains that the balloon’s entrance over the continental U.S. was “purely unintended” and is threatening “countermeasures” following the U.S. shooting down the balloon.