Chinese spy balloon shot down by U.S. officials over Carolina Coast, officials react

Published: Feb. 4, 2023 at 10:04 AM EST|Updated: Feb. 4, 2023 at 2:35 PM EST
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GREENVILLE, S.C. (FOX Carolina) - U.S. officials shot down the Chinese spy balloon after multiple sightings of it was reported over the Carolinas on Saturday morning.

FOX Carolina received calls from viewers in Pickens, Union, Greenville, Spartanburg and Cherokee County saying they saw what appeared to be the Chinese spy balloon in their area.

Furman University James B. Duke Professor of Asian Studies and Politics and International Affairs Katherine Kaup says the events of the past week will have a negative reaction on an already fragile relationship between the U.S. and China.

“It will at least set us back several months and I’m hoping that it won’t be a permanent setback, but it will certainly put a delay in improving the relationships that we so desperately very much need,” she said.

U.S. officials announced Saturday afternoon that the balloon was spotted across the Carolinas and devised a plan to shoot it down once it was above the Atlantic Ocean.

In preparation for this act, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) temporarily paused departures from arrivals to airspace over the Carolina coastline, including airports in Charleston and Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

Just before 3:15 p.m., the FAA posted an update to social media saying flights are resuming.

Former Intelligence Operations Specialist Keith Mahoney does not believe the Chinese Balloon itself was that big of a deal.

“We’re all talking about a balloon that has very little significance in national security,” he said.

Mahoney is instead focused on other news from the region, such as the U.S. securing access to four additional military bases in the Philippines.

“What’s happening in the Philippines, what’s happening in China, what’s happening in Taiwan that’s called war footing. That is scary. That keeps me awake at night,” he said.

South Carolina and North Carolina officials also reacted to the U.S. shooting down the balloon.

Congressman Chuck Edwards released a statement stating: “I am outraged at this unprecedented Chinese invasion of American airspace.” His full statement can be found here.

Gov. Henry McMaster tweeted about the operation Saturday afternoon.

Senator Tim Scott also tweeted a statement in reaction to the operation.

Senator Lindsey Graham also tweeted about the operation and thanked the men and women of the military for completing the mission.