Myrtle Beach mayor knocks federal government’s handling of suspected Chinese spy balloon

The mayor of Myrtle Beach, S.C., called out the federal government’s handling of the suspected Chinese spy balloon that drifted across the U.S. before being shot down off the Carolina coast on Saturday.

“Lots of you noticed some unplanned fireworks over Myrtle Beach today,” Mayor Brenda Bethune wrote in a Facebook post Saturday night. “While this was done in a manner that ensured the safety of our citizens, I do have concerns about how the federal government can allow a foreign adversary to fly uninterrupted from Montana to our doorstep.”

Bethune added that she hoped to “hear from our federal government how this happened and how they will prevent this, or anything like it, from happening again.”

Bethune’s remarks come after U.S. officials shot down the Chinese spy balloon off the Carolina coast Saturday afternoon and the Federal Aviation Administration paused flights from three airports in North Carolina and South Carolina due to security concerns.

The U.S. military is currently working to recover debris and intelligence information from the spy balloon.

U.S. officials confirmed the existence of the spy balloon on Thursday, saying that it was first spotted hovering over Montana the day before. Chinese officials acknowledged that the balloon was theirs but claimed the purpose of the device was meteorological research.

The incident has heightened tensions between the two countries, resulting in Secretary of State Antony Blinken postponing his trip to Beijing on Friday and a senior State Department official calling the incident a “clear violation of our sovereignty as well as international law.”

The Chinese foreign ministry said in a statement the U.S.’s decision to shoot down the balloon was “a clear overreaction and a serious violation of international practice,” adding it has the right to make “further responses that are necessary” in relation to the incident.

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