Biden vows to protect America after Chinese balloon incident

The balloon crossed US and Canadian airspace last week before shooting off the coast of the Carolinas on Saturday, days before Biden’s address to Congress.

China claimed it was a weather balloon that must have gone off and lashed out at the US for shooting it down. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken has postponed a visit to Beijing over the incident.

The flap has sparked bipartisan chaos in China on Capitol Hill — where Beijing has bipartisan support — and calls for more information about the balloon and the administration’s handling of it.

Biden said last week that he had ordered the military to shoot down the balloon before Saturday, but top officials recommended waiting until it was above water to minimize the risk to people on the ground. The military is now working to recover the wreckage.

Administration officials are set to brief lawmakers on the balloon this week, and a Senate panel is scheduled to hold a hearing on it Thursday.

Biden added Tuesday night that his administration has put the United States in the “strongest position in decades to compete” with Beijing. The United States, he said, would cooperate where possible.

He added that he is “investing in making America stronger” and that he makes no apologies for competing with China. He spoke of efforts to modernize the military to “preserve stability and deter aggression.”

Biden also highlighted the administration’s efforts to help Ukraine fend off Russian aggression, a message that has some Republicans questioning the need for continued aid to Kiev.

As the war nears its one-year mark, Biden said Russian President Vladimir Putin’s February 2022 invasion was a “test for the ages” for the United States and its allies in Europe.

“One year later, we know the answer,” he said.

Biden called Ukraine’s ambassador to the United States, Oksana Markarova, who sat in the House gallery for the speech.

“We are united in our support for your country,” Biden pledged. “We’ll be by your side as long as it takes.”