Republican lawmakers are calling on President Joe Biden to heed security concerns over the Chinese-backed social media app TikTok after the US military shot down a ‘spy balloon’ from Beijing on Saturday.
The alleged surveillance device was shot down off the coast of South Carolina by US warplanes after crossing several US states at an altitude low enough to be seen with the naked eye, alarming millions around the world. country.
The Air Force said on Saturday that it is now beginning a “recovery” operation for the fallen debris, which is expected to be “quite easy” given the shallow water in which it landed.
Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz led the GOP reaction calling for a continued crackdown on China last night.
“Now blow up TikTok,” he wrote on Twitter.
In this photo provided by Chad Fish, the remains of a large balloon float over the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of South Carolina, with a fighter jet and its wake below, Saturday, Feb. 4, 2023. The shooting down of the alleged Chinese spy balloon by a missile from an F-22 fighter jet created a spectacle over one of the state’s resorts and drew crowds who reacted with a mixture of puzzled looks, anguish and cheers
Authorities said the first spy balloon to travel across the US went down six miles off the coast of South Carolina in water about 47 feet deep. They noted that a suitable salvage vessel will not be on the scene for days as the race is on to secure the wreckage.
The Beijing government said Sunday afternoon local time that the US response to the balloon was an “overreaction” and threatened a “similar” situation if US surveillance devices were caught in Chinese airspace.
Rep. Mike Flood of Nebraska said on Twitter after the balloon was shot down: “The CCP continues to expand its surveillance operations beyond its borders. First, it was TikTok and Huawei. Now, they are floating balloons to spy on Americans on sight.
‘The Biden Administration is projecting weakness by dragging its feet to stop its plans. The United States stands at a crossroads, and it is time to draw a line in the sand: We will not allow the CCP to monitor, spy on, or collect data on Americans,” Flood said.
While the balloon has inspired fresh fears about China’s surveillance power in recent days, calls to crack down on TikTok have resonated on both sides of the aisle since the Trump administration.
The US intelligence community has raised national security concerns about TikTok, citing the Chinese government’s ability to track user data and influence millions of people who use the app daily.
The company has publicly denied such allegations and maintains that it stores US user data in Virginia with a backup copy in Singapore.
The Chinese Communist Party of Beijing owns part of TikTok’s parent company, Bytedance.
Utah Senator Mitt Romney said Friday: “One big Chinese balloon in the sky and millions of Chinese TikTok balloons on our phones. Let’s shut them all down.
South Carolina Rep. Jeff Duncan compared the app to the recently downed spy balloon on Saturday morning and accused Biden of failing to deal with both, even though his post came hours before the alleged spy device was shot down. .
An F-22 Raptor fighter jet fired a single AIM-9X missile to shoot down a Chinese spy balloon and its payload, which was equipped with cameras, sensors and radar.
Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz led the GOP response Saturday night by calling on President Biden to crack down on another suspected Chinese spy device, TikTok.
The president told reporters on Saturday that he ordered the shooting down of the balloon in the middle of last week.
Meanwhile, China says it ‘reserves the right’ to react in a similar way if such a situation were to occur in its airspace.
Utah Senator Mitt Romney said Friday: “One big Chinese balloon in the sky and millions of Chinese TikTok balloons on our phones. Let’s shut them all down
“The Chinese globe is just a ‘weather globe,’ like TikTok is just a ‘social media app,'” he said, referring to Beijing’s explanations.
Both have nefarious intentions, are controlled by the CCP, and should not be allowed to operate in the United States. Biden is too weak, too compromised, or too incompetent to take on China.”
Florida Senator Rick Scott shared a message for Americans back home: ‘If you don’t like the idea of Communist China flying a surveillance balloon over your neighborhood, why would you allow the CCP direct access to you? and his family?’
“Every time you go on TikTok, that’s exactly what happens. Keep your family safe and delete it ASAP,” Scott said Friday.
Meanwhile, the US military has said it is beginning to collect the remains of the Chinese ‘spy balloon’ it shot down on Saturday afternoon.
“There are a number of US Navy and Coast Guard vessels establishing a security perimeter around the area where the balloon made landfall,” an Air Force statement read.
Defense officials estimated the balloon was about the size of three buses at a height of 120 feet, and that the debris field would be considerable, estimated at seven miles when it was shot down off the South Carolina coast on Saturday.
“They are looking for debris,” said a senior military official who also spoke in the background.
The statement added: “There is no estimate of how long the recovery mission will take, the military official said, but the fact that it fell in such a shallow area should make recovery “quite easy.”
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg told CNN on Sunday that it fell into a seven-mile debris field in the Atlantic Ocean.
Meanwhile, the Chinese government criticized the US shooting down the balloon as an “overreaction”.
“The United States used force to attack our civil unmanned aircraft, which is an obvious overreaction,” China’s Foreign Ministry said.
‘We solemnly protest against this move by the US.’
Beijing warned that it “reserves the right to use the necessary means to deal with similar situations.”