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Senate holds first hearing on the suspected Chinese spy balloon

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The Senate on Thursday is holding its first hearing on the Chinese spy balloon that floated over the United States last week before it was shot down over the weekend.

The Senate Appropriations Committee will hear testimony from top Pentagon officials, including Lt. Gen. Douglas Sims II, the director of operations for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Vice Admiral Sara Joyner, director of force structure, resources and assessments for the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

The hearing comes as the US Navy and US Coast Guard complete a recovery operation of the downed spy balloon roughly six miles off the coast of South Carolina. On Saturday, Biden gave the order to take the 200-foot-tall spy balloon out of the sky. The operation resulted in an F-22 fighter jet shearing a hole in the bottom of the balloon with a sidewinder missile.

Pentagon spokesman US Air Force Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder said Wednesday that Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin called his Chinese counterpart on Saturday following the military mission. Chinese officials did not accept the call.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Wednesday that the US intelligence community was studying the balloon and that the US would continue to update allies as well as countries around the world that may be victims of Chinese espionage.

“The United States was not the only target of this broader program, which has violated the sovereignty of countries across five continents,” Blinken said at the State Department.

“In our engagements, we are again hearing from our partners that the world expects China and the United States to manage our relationship responsibly. That’s precisely what we set out to do. We continue to urge China to do the same,” he added.

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