US Air Force shoot down suspected Chinese spy balloon
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Grant Shapps said that UK Government was fully behind the US’ decision to shoot down a Chinese spy balloon yesterday. The US shot down the giant balloon that it says has been spying on key military sites across America in recent days. BBC host Laura Kuenssberg asked whether the UK would have shot one down “in a similar situation”.
She asked: “If that had happened in the UK – if there was a Chinese spy balloon over the UK – would the UK have done the same?
“Would we even have the capability to do so?”
Mr Shapps was resolute in his response: “First of all, we support the US and the action they have taken.
“It cannot be right to send spy balloons over the American mainland.
“The UK would always take national security very seriously.”
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The Business Secretary said that he takes a similar approach when judging Chinese investments in the British economy under his brief.
He said: “Where there is intelligence information, I do act.
“I am responsible for judging whether investments from China impact our national security.”
When asked whether he was being “tough enough” on China, Mr Shapps explained: “I have been extremely tough.
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“We want to be a country that is open to investment but not in areas that might impact our national security.
“That is where we draw the line.”
Last month it was reported that the UK Government was drawing up plans for a ‘Sage-style’ committee of experts screening proposals for infrastructure funding.
Several senior Conservatives have raised alarm over the extent of Chinese investment in sensitive British industries.
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On Saturday, the US Department of Defence confirmed its fighter jets brought down the balloon over US territorial waters.
China’s foreign ministry later expressed “strong dissatisfaction and protest against the US’s use of force to attack civilian unmanned aircraft”.
The US military is now trying to recover debris that is spread over seven miles.
The discovery of the balloon set off a diplomatic spat, with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken immediately calling off this weekend’s trip to China over the “irresponsible act”.
The Chinese authorities have denied it is a spying aircraft, and instead said it was a weather ship blown astray.
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