US President Joe Biden said on Monday that relations between Washington and Beijing were not weakened by the United States' downing of a suspected Chinese spy balloon over the weekend.
Speaking to reporters outside the White House and quoted by Reuters, Biden said it was always his view that the balloon needed to be shot down "as soon as it was appropriate."
Asked if the balloon incident weakens US-China relations, Biden replied, "No. We made it clear to China what we're going to do. They understand our position. We're not going to back off."
The US on Saturday downed the suspected Chinese spy balloon off the coast of the Carolinas. Live TV news captured the moment the balloon was downed. In the live footage, a small explosion can be seen, after which the balloon slowly falls toward the water.
China later said it is “strongly discontented” with the US downing of its surveillance balloon, adding it reserves the right for any necessary reaction to the incident.
The decision to down the balloon came a day after the Pentagon ruled out doing so, saying that "any potential debris field would be significant" and could cause "civilian injuries or deaths or significant property damage”.