Defense minister says Canada supports US shooting down Chinese spy balloon

The defense minister said the balloon violated Canadian airspace and said Canada “clearly supports” the US government’s decision to shoot down a high-altitude surveillance balloon suspected of spying on China. Stated.

Fighters lowered the balloon from the Carolina coast Saturday afternoon after passing key military installations across North America.

Anita Anand issued a statement hours later, in which she and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau were briefed on the operation by the National Security and Intelligence Advisor and Chief of Defense Staff, which will run from Friday night through Saturday.

She said Canada has been closely engaged with its US counterparts on this decision and appreciates their close cooperation.

Pentagon officials described the object as a steerable surveillance balloon flying at an altitude of about 18,288 meters with a “payload” or basket underneath.

On Friday, Anand’s office declined to comment on whether the balloon flew over Canadian airspace, but her statement Saturday said it “violated U.S. and Canadian airspace and international law.” increase.

“Officials in the national security community operate bilaterally, with Canada closely engaging its U.S. counterparts on decisions and clearly supporting the actions taken,” Anand said in a statement. said in

U.S. President Joe Biden on Saturday ordered U.S. officials to shoot down the balloon earlier this week, saying national security leaders determined the best time for the operation would be when the balloon moved over water. rice field.

China’s foreign ministry said the balloon was a civilian airship used mainly for meteorological research and that it “deviated significantly from its planned course” due to the wind.

Anand said Saturday that North American Aerospace Defense Command’s NORAD is “tracking and analyzing the trajectory and behavior” of the balloon.

“Cooperation between Canada and the United States through NORAD ensures the safety and defense of North American aviation sovereignty, and we are grateful to its members for having a watch,” she said.

Pentagon officials say one of the locations where the balloon was discovered is over Montana, home to one of three U.S. nuclear missile silo fields at Malmstrom Air Force Base.

US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said in a statement that the decision to shoot down the balloon “safely” over US waters “was made with the cooperation and full support of the Government of Canada.”

“And we thank Canada for its contribution via Norad to the tracking and analysis of the balloon as it transits North America,” Austin said in a statement.

Global Affairs Canada said Friday that officials summoned China’s ambassador Kong Peiu to express frustration with the balloons.

US officials have also announced that Secretary of State Anthony Brinken will postpone a planned diplomatic trip to China for an important weekend.

This report by the Canadian Press was first published on February 4, 2023.