Esper: Balloon incident weakens relationship between US, China

Greg Nash

Former Defense Secretary Mark Esper on Tuesday said that the suspected Chinese spy balloon that traveled over the country last week has further weakened relations between the United States and China.

“I think it certainly undermines U.S.-China relations and damages trust between our two countries, between our leadership,” Esper said in an appearance on “CNN This Morning.”

The “high-altitude surveillance balloon” initially entered U.S. airspace in Alaska on Jan. 28, and briefly traveled through Canada before reentering the U.S. through Idaho on Jan. 31. Biden said on Saturday that he ordered the military to bring down the aircraft “as soon as possible” on Wednesday. The balloon was subsequently shot down by the military on Saturday near the South Carolina coast.

The balloon incident led Secretary of State Antony Blinken to postpone his visit to Beijing last week, calling the suspected surveillance balloon in U.S. air space “unacceptable.”

Esper, who served as the Defense Secretary under President Trump, said he questions why they did not detect Chinese balloons that came near the United States during the Trump administration. He suggested that previous balloons may have become “lost in the noise,” which may be why they were undetected.

A senior official said over the weekend that Chinese balloons traveled over the U.S. three times during the Trump administration. Trump and his officials denied the claim, and Trump called it “disinformation.”

“I would be ordering an inquiry as to what happened and why,” he said. “And I’m sure Congress is going to do the same to find out what happened, how did it happen? When did we find out and what are we doing to fix the problem?”

Tags Antony Blinken Biden Chinese balloon Chinese spy balloon Donald Trump Donald Trump Joe Biden Mark Esper Mark Esper

Copyright 2023 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

See all Hill.TV See all Video

Most Popular

Load more


See all Video