During Thursday’s remarks about the three unidentified high-altitude objects and China’s surveillance balloon, President Biden made clear that he will “always act in the best interest and security of the American people” and protect the nation’s sovereignty from foreign threats. 

Concerning the nature of the unidentified devices, Biden reassured what John Kirby from the NSC said earlier in the week, that nothing suggests the objects are connected to the Chinese spy balloon. According to the President, the Intelligence Community’s current assessment is that these objects were tied to private companies, recreation, or research institutions studying the weather. 

President Biden reiterated that there is no evidence of a “sudden increase” in the objects found in American skies. “We are seeing more of them because we have taken to increase and narrow our radars,” noted the President. 

Biden explained that the main reason why his administration decided to shoot down the objects was that the devices were hazardous to civilian commercial air traffic. The intelligence could also not rule out the potential surveillance risk of sensitive facilities. 

“Make no mistake, if any object presents a threat to the safety and security of the American people, I will take it down,” reiterated the head-of-state.  

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To improve the country’s approach to unidentified and unmanned high-altitude objects and create more secure skies for air travelers, the military, scientists, and those on the ground, Biden’s administration developed a 4-step plan: 

  1. Establish a better inventory of unmanned airborne objects in space, above the American airspace. That inventory will be accessible and up to date. 
  2. Implement further measures to improve the US’ capacity to take down unmanned objects in American airspace. 
  3. Update rules and regulations for launching and maintaining unmanned objects in the skies above the US. 
  4. Biden’s Secretary of State will lead an effort to establish common global norms in this largely unregulated area. 

The President added that he would share classified parameters with Congress to improve the government’s protection of American skies. However, these will remain classified information as Biden does not want to give US enemies a “road map to invade our defense.” 

Biden laid out his approach to the Chinese balloon. The military advised him not to take down the balloon while it was inland since it posed a risk to civilians on the ground. According to the President, the Intelligence Community tracked it closely, analyzed its capabilities, and learned how the device operated. 

“We knew its path, so we were able to protect sensitive sites against surveillance collection,” stated Biden. 

The administration then waited until the balloon was above water, which would protect Americans on the ground and make it possible for American forces to recover the balloon’s debris. 

President Biden believes that his decision to shoot down the balloon is a “clear message” that a “violation of American sovereignty is unacceptable.”

American exports have lifted the balloon’s components from the ocean floor and are analyzing the remains. The outcomes of this research will “strengthen our capabilities,” noted the President. 

Biden stated that he had placed restrictions on six companies that directly support the People’s Liberation Army Space program to protect the US from invaders, denying them access to American technology. 

Nonetheless, Biden maintains that his administration will continue to engage with China. 

“We see competition, not conflict with China. We are not looking for a Cold War, but I make no apologies. We will compete and responsibly manage that competition so it does not veer into conflict,” the President added. 

American diplomats will continue to engage with Chinese officials, and the President affirmed that he is expected to speak with President Xi Jinping. However, he did not disclose when or where the meeting would occur. 

At the end of his speech, Biden stated that he “makes no apologies for taking down that balloon.” 

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