On Thursday, President Joe Biden said he expected to speak with China's President Xi Jinping over a Chinese spy balloon that a U.S. fighter plane shot down early this month after transiting the US.
"We don't want another cold war," Biden declared.
In his most comprehensive remarks about the Chinese balloon and three unidentified objects downed by U.S. jets, Biden did not announce when he would speak with Xi but said the US was continuing to engage diplomatically with China on the subject.
"I anticipate to be speaking with President Xi, I hope we are going to get to the bottom of this, but I make no apologies for bringing down that balloon," Biden stated in response to Beijing objections.
China claims the 200-foot (60-meter) balloon was for weather observation, but Washington says it was a surveillance balloon with an electronics-laden undercarriage.
After lawmakers demanded more information on the spate of aerial objects that began with the Chinese balloon, Biden broke his silence. Many Americans are baffled by the incidents.
He stated the U.S. intelligence community was still investigating the three unidentified objects: one shot down over Alaska, one over Canada, and one into Lake Huron.
The administration said they threatened civil aviation and were shot down.
"We don't yet know exactly what these three items were, but nothing right now suggests they were tied to the Chinese spy balloon program or any other country's surveillance vehicles," Biden added.
"Most likely balloons related to private enterprises, recreation or research institutes," Biden said, citing the intelligence community.
After the Chinese balloon, radar was improved, Biden claimed.
"That's why I've asked my staff to come back to me with stricter standards for how we will deal with these unidentified objects moving forward, distinguishing between those likely to pose safety and security threats that require action and those that don't."
The remarks followed reports that the Chinese balloon downed on Feb. 4 after crossing the continental US was blown off course by prevailing winds and would have flown across Guam and Hawaii.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken postponed a visit to Beijing to improve relations after the incident.
Blinken may see China's top diplomat Wang Yi at the Munich Security Conference this weekend.
John Bolton, Trump's national security advisor, tweeted that he had been informed by the U.S. intelligence community on Wednesday and was "profoundly worried about the Biden Administration's handling of these possible national-security risks," highlighting its "shifting story line."
On Tuesday, the Washington Post claimed that U.S. military and intelligence services monitored the balloon from its launch in Hainan, China.
It was shot down off South Carolina, and senators have criticized the administration for letting it drift across the country, especially near key military posts.
On Thursday, a Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman called the downed balloon a "unmanned civilian airship" and called its journey into U.S. territory a "isolated" event.
"The U.S. should be willing to meet China in the middle, manage differences and appropriately handle isolated, unexpected incidents to avoid misunderstandings and misjudgments; and promote the return of U.S.-China relations to a healthy and stable development track," spokesman Wang Wenbin told reporters at a regular briefing.
Beijing threatened "countermeasures against relevant U.S. companies that endanger China's sovereignty and security" for Washington's overreaction in shooting down the balloon.
China banned Lockheed Martin Corp (LMT.N) and a unit of Raytheon Technologies Corp (RTX.N) from Chinese imports and exports on Thursday for selling weaponry to Taiwan.
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