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South Carolina leaders react as military shoots down Chinese spy balloon off SC coast

The State (Columbia, SC) logo The State (Columbia, SC) 2/4/2023 Joseph Bustos, The State

South Carolina officials reacted Saturday after Air Force jets shot down Chinese spy balloon off of Myrtle Beach.

Gov. Henry McMaster was briefed Saturday on the Pentagon plans to shoot down the balloon, he tweeted out. However, a spokesman for the governor’s office did not have other details of the briefing.

The Department of Defense said Biden ordered the Pentagon on Wednesday to shoot down the balloon once it was safe to do so without harming anyone on the ground.

Earlier this week U.S. Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., who is a potential presidential candidate, said Biden wasn’t taking the balloon seriously.

“The balloon should have been shot down before it crossed the continental United States, not after. We still don’t know what information was collected and where it was sent,” Scott said in a statement Saturday. “This was a dereliction of Biden’s duty, and let’s hope the American people don’t pay a price.”

Former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, who is set to announce her run for president on Feb. 15, called on Biden Friday to shoot down the balloon.

“China would never let a spy balloon fly through their airspace,” Haley tweeted about four hours before the balloon was shot down. “No strong leader would. And now, it’s flying above South Carolina. Capture the balloon. See what they are collecting. Hold Xi accountable.”

U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., complimented the military for carrying out the mission.

“Thank you to the men and women of the United States military who were responsible for completing the mission to shoot down the Chinese surveillance balloon,” Graham said on Twitter. “The Biden Administration did the right thing in bringing it down.”

Military personnel are now recovering the balloon remnants.

“Our intelligence community doubts the Chinese explanation - a weather surveillance balloon gone awry - but we will only know the true answer when the platform is recovered,” Graham said.

©2023 The State. Visit Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.


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