Elizabeth Warren

Senator from Massachusetts
Jump to  stances on the issues
Elizabeth Warren dropped out of the presidential race on March 5, 2020. This page is no longer being updated.
Warren is campaigning on the promise she will push sweeping changes that address economic inequality and root out corruption. The former Harvard law professor was a prominent voice for stricter oversight following the 2008 financial crisis before being elected to the US Senate in 2012.
University of Houston B.S., 1970; Rutgers University, J.D., 1976
June 22, 1949
Bruce Mann; divorced from Jim Warren
Methodist
Amelia, Alexander (with Jim Warren)
Professor, Harvard Law School, 1995-2012;
Visiting professor, Harvard Law School, 1992-1993;
Law professor, University of Pennsylvania Law School, 1987-1995;
Professor of law, University of Texas Law School in Austin, 1983-1987;
Assistant and later associate professor at the University of Houston Law Center, 1978-1983;
Law lecturer at Rutgers School of Law, 1977-1978;
Speech pathologist at a New Jersey elementary school, early 1970s

WARREN IN THE NEWS

Elizabeth Warren: Crypto giants are 'collapsing under the weight of their own fraud'
Updated 2:48 PM ET, Wed Jan 25, 2023
Senator Elizabeth Warren, a longtime crypto critic, warned recent turbulence in the digital asset space will only continue unless a host of regulators strengthen protections for investors. "For all their talk of innovation and financial inclusion, crypto industry giants — from FTX to Celsius to Voyager — are collapsing under the weight of their own fraud, deceit and gross mismanagement," she said. "And when they sink, they take a lot of honest investors down with them," Warren (D-Mass.) added during her comments Wednesday at an event hosted by the American Economic Liberties Project and Americans for Financial Reform. FTX, Celsius and Voyager all filed for bankruptcy last year as asset prices tanked and the global market capitalization of crypto collapsed by roughly $2 trillion. Federal prosecutors have charged several former FTX executives, including founder Sam Bankman-Fried, with orchestrating one of the biggest financial frauds in US history. The collapse of FTX in November sparked a contagion that is still rippling through crypto markets, which remain largely unregulated and opaque. Warren on Wednesday called on regulators, including the Securities and Exchange Commission and banking authorities, to double down on the tools they already have. They need to protect consumers, educate investors and pursue "meaningful consequences" for bad actors, she said. "Crypto fraud is a big problem, but it's one we can fix," Warren said. The SEC in the past two years has made "a good start" by keeping crypto volatility out of the traditional banking system and preventing Bitcoin exchange-traded funds from hitting the market, she said. And without naming Bankman-Fried directly, Warren praised the SEC for charging "crypto crooks" with defrauding ordinary investors. But the SEC can't fix it all. "All our regulators need to get in the game," Warren said, calling on environmental and banking officials to step up. "Crypto mining firms are polluting communities, they're straining power grids, and they're driving up utility costs in communities from Texas to New York," she said. "Both the Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency have the authority to require crypto miners to disclose their energy use and their environmental impact. " Warren said the rise of crypto-friendly banks has already opened the traditional banking system to greater risk, "raising the specter of a crypto collapse in which American taxpayers are left holding the bag." "It's the bank regulators' job to insulate the banking system — and taxpayers — from the risk of a crypto fraud. They have the tools, and they need to use them. Finally, Warren said, wherever regulators lack the authority they need, it's Congress' responsibility to give the agencies the tools they need to enforce the rules. In her trademark no-nonsense tone, she acknowledged the crypto advocates who have long bristled at the notion of greater regulation. Tougher regulators, she said, would give the industry a chance "to prove whether it can deliver on its promises of innovation without robbing investors or laundering funds for drug traffickers and terrorists." "No financial industry should get to write its own playbook — you either comply with the law or you face tough consequences for violating it. Crypto is no different."
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STANCES ON THE ISSUES

climate crisis
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A backer of the Green New Deal, the broad plan to address renewable-energy infrastructure and climate change proposed by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Warren has set out one of the most detailed proposals for making it happen. In June 2019, she introduced a suite of industrial proposals with names like the “Green Apollo Program” and “Green Marshall Plan.” Her Green Industrial Mobilization is the most ambitious – and expensive, with a $1.5 trillion price tag over 10 years – for spending on “American-made clean, renewable, and emission-free energy products for federal, state, and local use, and for export.” The “Green Apollo” plan would invest in scientific innovation and the “Green Marshall Plan” would facilitate the sales of new green technologies to foreign markets. In September 2019, Warren announced she would adopt the climate change proposals championed by Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, who bowed out of his climate change-focused candidacy in August 2019. That includes a 10-year plan for moving to 100% clean energy and emissions-free vehicles, as well as zero-carbon pollution from all new commercial and residential buildings by 2028. Warren says achieving those goals would take another $1 trillion in investment on top of her existing proposals, which she says would be covered by reversing the 2017 Republican tax cuts. Warren said in October 2019 that, if elected president, she would mandate all federal agencies to consider climate impacts in their permitting and rulemaking processes. When tribal nations are involved, Warren wrote in a Medium post, projects would not proceed unless “developers have obtained the free, prior and informed consent of the tribal governments concerned.” She said a Warren administration would aggressively pursue cases of environmental discrimination, and would fully fund the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s environmental health programs. Warren told The Washington Post she would recommit the US to the Paris climate accord, a landmark 2015 deal on global warming targets that Trump has pledged to abandon. More on Warren’s climate crisis policy
economy
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Warren says she’s a capitalist but wants regulation. “I believe in markets,” she said in a March 2019 CNN town hall, following up with a focus on rules and regulation. “Market without rules is theft.” The senator has released a tax plan that would impose a 2% tax on households with net worths of more than $50 million and an additional 1% levy on wealth above $1 billion. This tax would cover, according to Warren, a universal child care program she announced in February 2019. Warren has staked out her claim as an opposition leader against what she sees as big business overreach. Also in February 2019, she criticized Amazon for “walk[ing] away from billions in taxpayer bribes, all because some elected officials in New York aren’t sucking up to them enough. How long will we allow giant corporations to hold our democracy hostage?” She was opposed to the recent deregulation efforts around banks. Warren is calling for the breakup of companies like Google, Facebook and Amazon and advocated legislation that would make Amazon Marketplace and Google search into utilities. In July 2019, Warren released a plan aimed at Wall Street and private equity that would reinstate a modern Glass-Steagall Act, which would wall off commercial banks from investment banks, place new restrictions on the private equity industry and propose legislative action to more closely tie bank executives’ pay to their companies’ performance. She also released a set of trade policy changes that would seek to defend American jobs by negotiating to raise global labor and environmental standards. The senator wrote that she would not strike any trade deals unless partner countries meet a series of ambitious preconditions regarding human rights, religious freedom, and labor and environmental practices, among other issues. She said she would renegotiate existing trade agreements to ensure other countries meet the higher standards, and she pledged to push for a new “non-sustainable economy” designation to give her the ability to penalize countries with poor labor and environmental practices. Warren said in October 2019 that she would extend labor rights to all workers, protect pensions and strengthen workers’ rights to organize, bargain collectively and strike. More on Warren’s economic policy
education
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Warren has released a plan to forgive up to $50,000 in student debt for tens of millions of Americans. The amount of relief would be tied to income, with those households making $250,000 or more shut out of the program. Households earning less than $250,000 would be eligible for relief on a sliding scale, with those reporting less than $100,000 a year eligible for the maximum. Warren unveiled the proposal as part of a larger program that would supercharge federal spending on higher education, including eliminating tuition and fees for college students at two- and four-year public institutions. It would also ask states to pay a share of the costs. Warren would expand grants for low-income and minority students to help with costs like housing, food, books and child care. Her campaign has priced the plan at $1.25 trillion over 10 years and says it would be paid for by her wealth tax. The plan would also establish a $50 billion fund for historically black colleges and universities and minority-serving institutions. More on Warren’s education policy
gun violence
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During the first Democratic debate, Warren called gun violence “a national health emergency” that should be treated like a “virus that’s killing our children” – and called for robust new restrictions and new investment in research. “We can do the universal background checks, we can ban the weapons of war,” Warren added, “but we can also double down on the research and find out what really works.” Though her campaign has not yet released a gun control plan, Warren has been active on the issue as a senator. In February 2018, less than two weeks after the Parkland, Florida, mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, she sent letters to nine major gun company shareholders, asking that they use their influence to pressure the industry to take steps to reduce gun violence. She supports bans on so-called assault weapons and legislation prohibiting high-capacity magazines, and has voted to expand background checks for gun buyers.
healthcare
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Warren has endorsed Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’ “Medicare for All” bill, which would create a national government-run health care program and essentially eliminate the private insurance industry. In a plan released in November 2019, Warren said she would implement Medicare for All in two phases that would be complete by the end of her first term. Warren proposed a plan in April 2019 to drive down the maternal mortality rate among African American women. Warren has also co-sponsored legislation in the Senate aimed at lowering the price of prescription drugs that includes allowing the federal government to manufacture generic medications if their prices spike. More on Warren’s health care policy
immigration
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Warren unveiled a plan in July 2019 to overhaul the nation’s immigration system, pledging to reverse a series of Trump administration policies and authorize her Justice Department to review allegations of abuse against detained migrants. The proposal would decriminalize crossing the border into the United States without authorization, a step first championed by former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julián Castro, and separate law enforcement from immigration enforcement. If elected, Warren said, she would first seek to pursue her agenda through legislation, but “move forward with executive action if Congress refuses to act.” Warren also said she supports legislation that would provide a path to legal status and citizenship for undocumented immigrants. Her plan would end privately contracted detention facilities and she promises that she would “issue guidance ensuring that detention is only used where it is actually necessary because an individual poses a flight or safety risk.” Warren backs expanding legal immigration, raising the refugee cap and making “it easier for those eligible for citizenship to naturalize.” She would reduce “the family reunification backlog” and provide “a fair and achievable pathway to citizenship.” More on Warren’s immigration policy

LATEST POLITICAL NEWS

The latest on the suspected Chinese spy balloon over the US
Updated 12:04 PM ET, Fri Feb 3, 2023
Pentagon press secretary Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder is holding a news conference as officials track a suspected Chinese surveillance balloon over the northern United States. The briefing at the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, comes shortly after word that Secretary of State Antony Blinken has postponed a trip to China in response to the balloon sighting. Canada says it has summoned China’s ambassador to explain why a surveillance device entered Canadian airspace. A spokesperson for Global Affairs says Canada would like China to explain why and how its high-altitude monitoring device entered its airspace. “Yesterday, China’s Ambassador to Canada was summoned by officials at Global Affairs Canada regarding the situation described in the statement issued by Canada’s Department of National Defence. We will continue to vigorously express our position to Chinese officials through multiple channels,” says Jason Kung, as a spokesperson from Global Affairs Canada in a statement provided to CNN.  In a statement Thursday, Canada’s Department of National Defence confirmed it had detected the monitoring device and said it continues to track the surveillance balloon along with NORAD and its US counterparts. “Canadians are safe and Canada is taking steps to ensure the security of its airspace, including the monitoring of a potential second incident. NORAD, the Canadian Armed Forces, the Department of National Defence, and other partners have been assessing the situation and working in close coordination,” reads the statement in part.  CNN has asked for clarification regarding the "second incident" mentioned in the statement but the Canadian government says it does not yet have any more information to share at this time. As the US and its Canadian partners continue to monitor a suspected Chinese surveillance balloon floating above the northern United States, one question stands out among the rest: Why hasn’t it been shot down? Officials have said that the balloon’s path carries it over a “number of sensitive sites” in the US. It has been seen over Montana, which is home to underground US military intercontinental ballistic missile silos.  But ultimately, officials determined that the potential damage of falling debris outweighed the risk of the balloon itself, which they said does not have the ability to bring in more intelligence than spy satellites in low Earth orbit, which China already uses. “Why not shoot it down? We have to do the risk-reward here,” a senior defense official said on Thursday. “So the first question is, does it pose a threat, a physical kinetic threat, to individuals in the United States in the US homeland? Our assessment is it does not. Does it pose a threat to civilian aviation? Our assessment is it does not. Does it pose a significantly enhanced threat on the intelligence side? Our best assessment right now is that it does not. So given that profile, we assess the risk of downing it, even if the probability is low in a sparsely populated area of the debris falling and hurting someone or damaging property, that it wasn’t worth it.” President Joe Biden was briefed on the balloon’s movements and requested options from his military advisers. And while there was consideration to down the balloon while it was over Montana, the advice was to ultimately not to.The Biden administration acted “immediately” to protect against the collection of sensitive intelligence, an official said on Thursday. But that’s not to say that it couldn’t be shot down eventually; the senior defense official said on Thursday that the US has “options to deal with this balloon” if the risk it poses changes. “We have communicated to [Chinese officials] the seriousness with which we take this issue. … But we have made clear we will do whatever is necessary to protect our people and our homeland,” the official said. Officials decided to postpone Secretary of State Antony Blinken's visit to China after high-level conversations between Blinken, President Joe Biden and other top national security officials, according to people familiar with the matter. White House officials had viewed US-China relations as improving in the weeks following Biden's November meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping. Blinken's trip was to be the culmination of more robust talks between Washington and Beijing in the two months since the summit in Bali. In the lead up to Blinken's trip, officials said it was possible that Biden and Xi could speak again at some point in the next several months. But Biden has been sensitive to criticism from Republicans and others that he is too soft on China. He agreed with Pentagon recommendations not to shoot down the balloon, potentially endangering people on the ground, but he did want to demonstrate some type of response. Officials also believed the timing of the balloon could throw off Blinken's agenda in Beijing, and did not necessarily want his visit to become solely about the incident. A senior State Department official said Friday that "it wouldn't be constructive" for US Secretary of State Antony Blinken to visit Beijing right now due to the flying of a suspected Chinese spy balloon over the United States. “[A] clear assessment was that under these current conditions, it wouldn't be constructive to visit Beijing at this time,” the official said, adding that the presence of the suspected Chinese spy balloon is “a clear violation of our sovereignty as well as international law.” Blinken just postponed his upcoming trip to China in response to the suspected spy balloon, according to two US officials.  The Chinese Foreign Ministry maintains it is "a civilian airship used for research, mainly meteorological, purposes." The official said the US has acknowledged China’s “statement of regret but the presence of this balloon in our airspace is a clear violation of our sovereignty as well as international law and it is unacceptable that this has occurred,” the official said, calling this not an accusation but “a statement of fact.”  “After consultations with our interagency partners, as well as with Congress, we have concluded that the conditions are not right at this moment for Secretary Blinken to travel to China,” the official told reporters, noting that Blinken was due to depart for Beijing Friday night. “In this current environment, I think it would have significantly narrowed the agenda that we would have been able to address,” the official added.  Blinken conveyed the decision to postpone the trip directly to China’s top diplomat Wang Yi on Friday morning, according to the official.   The US official said that Blinken intends to travel to China “at the earliest opportunity when conditions allow” but did not elaborate on what conditions the US is watching for.  “I think it might be best if I don't get into all of the details of our diplomatic communications. But I will underscore we have been crystal clear with our Chinese counterparts that this was an unacceptable and irresponsible incident,” the official said. “And we have been clear about, again, our concerns and our expectations.” “I'm confident that that will continue, and I'm confident that given that our diplomatic channels remain open, we'll continue to address this matter forthrightly,” according to the official. “I'm confident that our channels of communication will remain as important as ever,” the official. Officials have been tracking what they suspect to be a high-altitude surveillance balloon as it travels across the northern United States over the past several days. A senior defense official said Thursday they are confident the balloon belongs to the People’s Republic of China, an assessment “shared across our intelligence and analytic communities.” US officials maintain that the balloon does not pose a physical threat to people on the ground, nor are there significant concerns about the balloon’s intelligence-gathering capabilities. Here is what we know so far: About the balloon: The balloon, which is the size of three buses according to another defense official, was spotted over Montana, where the US military has underground intercontinental ballistic missile silos. The balloon is not capable of gathering intelligence better than China can already get from its satellites in low Earth orbit, according to US officials. Can the US shoot it down? Senior military leaders have advised against shooting the balloon down. They say it does not pose a physical threat to people on the ground or to civilian aviation. There are, however, concerns about falling debris if it were to be shot down. How the Biden administration is responding: US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has postponed his upcoming trip to China in response to the balloon sighting. The postponement marks a significant new phase in the tensions between Washington and Beijing. What China is saying: Chinese officials called the balloon a “civilian airship used for research, mainly meteorological, purposes,” which “deviated far from its planned course.” US Lawmakers weigh in: Montana Sen. Jon Tester, the top defense appropriator, called the balloon a "provocation" and "completely unacceptable." House Speaker Kevin McCarthy called it a "destabilizing action that must be addressed." What happens now: Sources familiar with the matter told CNN that Beijing likely can predict the balloon’s path and can control its internal surveillance gear to a certain extent. The balloon is also being tracked by the Canadian Armed Forces and Canada’s Department of National Defense. This isn't a first: There have been similar incidents of suspected Chinese surveillance balloons over Hawaii and Guam in recent years, a US official said. ##Catch Up## US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has postponed his upcoming trip to China in response to the flying of a suspected Chinese spy balloon over the United States, according to two US officials.  The postponement marks a significant new phase in the tensions between Washington and Beijing. The Chinese foreign ministry claimed Friday that the suspected Chinese high-altitude surveillance balloon flying over the continental United States is a "civilian airship" used mainly for weather research that deviated from its planned course. The statement by a spokesperson for the Chinese ministry is the first admission that the airship originated in China since the Pentagon revealed it was tracking the balloon on Thursday. A US military official said that the incident was “definitely serious” because of the “audacity” of the Chinese government, rather than any intelligence gain. While existing satellites are able to gather similar amounts of information, the timing of the spy balloon — right before the planned Blinken trip — and the fact that this is right over the continental US contribute to the seriousness of this moment, the official said. The top US diplomat’s trip to the Chinese capital was due to follow up President Joe Biden's meeting with Xi Jinping in Bali late last year. "On China, as you know, President Biden, President Xi had a very open, candid conversation during the last G20 meeting in Bali, and they spoke about our intentions," Blinken said at a press conference in Washington, DC, in January. "President Biden shared our intentions and our priorities, and we got some sense of that from President Xi as well." "These lines of communication, starting with the presidents but also including many of us, are vitally important," Blinken said at the time. Montana resident Ashley McGowan told CNN she received a call from her neighbor wondering if she had heard jets flying about their neighborhood in the town of Reed Point on Wednesday.  McGowan said she went outside to let her dogs out and saw a bright white dot in the sky.  At first, she said she and her husband asked themselves, “What's happening? Is this a UFO or is it like trash or is it the star? I had somebody try to tell me it was the green comet; I'm like, that's way too close to be the comet,” McGowan said. “This isn't normal. There's jets flying everywhere.” McGowan said her husband, Dylan Nobles, brought out a spotting scope and tried to judge how far it was. The closest estimate he could get was about 27,000 feet in the sky.  McGowan said she witnessed an airliner divert away from it and that jets were flying overhead for at least 45 minutes while they were watching the sky. Reed Point is about 60 miles west of Billings. Former Secretary of Defense Mark Esper said he wouldn't recommend shooting down the suspected Chinese high-altitude surveillance balloon. “My interest would be not necessarily shooting it down, but bringing it down so that we can capture the equipment and understand exactly what they’re doing, are they taking pictures? Are they intercepting signals? What are they doing and what is the level of technical capability?” Esper, who served under former President Donald Trump said, “Now, failing that, I would definitely shoot it down, provided that there’s no risk to people on the ground.”  Esper also suggested that there may be “a counterintelligence value" in letting the balloon pass. "There’s always more to this than meets the eye. I wouldn’t be privy to that now, so I give the Pentagon some room here.” Esper called this suspected surveillance attempt a "brazen act by the Chinese." “Curiously, the Chinese are not outright denying it as they typically do,” Esper stated, “so the way they’re playing this is quite curious to me as well.” Meanwhile, this development has made top US Secretary of State Antony Blinken's upcoming trip to Beijing uncertain. Esper said canceling the trip could be one option to consider, among others. "I think we need to know more, and we need to assess what’s happening in the broader context," he said. “Sometimes you call off trips like this, or sometimes you prepared to give a very, very strong statement of China violating our sovereignty." The suspected Chinese high-altitude surveillance balloon flying over the continental US entered the US airspace “due to force majeure,” a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson said on Friday, confirming the airship was from China. “It is a civilian airship used for research, mainly meteorological, purposes. Affected by the Westerlies and with limited self-steering capability, the airship deviated far from its planned course. The Chinese side regrets the unintended entry of the airship into US airspace due to force majeure,” the spokesperson said in a statement. “The Chinese side will continue communicating with the US side and properly handle this unexpected situation caused by force majeure,” the statement added. What is a Force Majeure? "Force Majeure" — which means "greater force" — excuses a party from liability if an unforeseen event, such as a natural catastrophe, prevents it from performing its obligations under the contract. Sources familiar with the matter tell CNN that it appears that the suspected Chinese spy balloon movements appear to rely primarily on the jet stream, allowing Beijing to predict its likely path. China can control the surveillance balloon to an extent, for example by turning on and off the surveillance gear inside of it, the sources said. The fact that China does have some control over the balloon's capabilities is why the US government has raised their concerns with Beijing about it, the sources said. What US officials are saying: The balloon’s surveillance equipment appears to be powered by a solar array, one US official said, which would provide the system with a reliable source of power at high altitude. But the solar array does not appear to be connected to any type of motor that would allow China to steer the balloon, the official added. Pentagon officials said they did not believe the balloon had surveillance or intelligence-gathering capabilities above and beyond Chinese spy satellites in low earth orbit, but unlike satellites that pass rapidly over a location every 90 minutes, a spy balloon can loiter over a spot and gather more of a “pattern of life” of a particular site, the official said. In the past, the US has simply allowed balloons like this to waft away, without taking any action or publicizing their presence over the US, the sources said. It is also not the first time a surveillance balloon has appeared over the United States.   The US official said there were similar incidents with suspected Chinese surveillance balloons over Hawaii and Guam in recent years. On Thursday, a senior defense official said, “Instances of this activity have been observed over the past several years, including prior to this administration.” The US government now believes that it has gotten China's attention about the balloon, and that the matter could be resolved soon, the sources said.  It's hard to imagine a worse warm up for US Secretary of State Antony Blinken's critical talks in Beijing, which are expected in the next few days, than news that a suspected Chinese spy balloon is floating merrily across the US. The Pentagon says it's been tracking the balloon — the size of three buses, according to a defense official — for several days but made the decision not to shoot it down. It reasoned that the balloon was wafting well above commercial and military air lanes — and that it was not a huge intelligence threat. This seems a reasonable position since Chinese surveillance satellites with a far greater capacity for espionage are known to hover in space over the US. And officials said it's not the first time the US has tracked one of Beijing's balloons during this and previous administrations. This is hardly a DEFCON-1 situation. But the balloon offers a perfect glimpse into one of the most destructive factors driving the US and China toward confrontation. The politics of the world's most critical geopolitical relationship are so torqued in both countries that any incident can set off a new round of recriminations. That's what Blinken is traveling to Beijing to address.  Washington is already in an uproar. Republicans — always keen to portray President Joe Biden as soft on China, even though he's actually been at least as tough as ex-President Donald Trump — are up in arms over what they are portraying as a violation of US sovereignty. "Information strongly suggests the (Defense) Department failed to act with urgency in responding to this airspace incursion by a high-altitude surveillance balloon. No incursion should be ignored, and should be dealt with appropriately," said Mississippi Sen. Roger Wicker, the top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee. House Republican Speaker Kevin McCarthy — who has already warned China this week it can't stop him visiting Taiwan if he wants — demanded a briefing about the balloon for the Gang of Eight congressional leaders. Read the full analysis here. China is “aware of reports” of the alleged Chinese balloon hovering over the US and is working to “understand the circumstances and verify the details” of the situation, said Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Mao Ning in a press briefing on Friday. “I'd like to stress that before it becomes clear what happened, any deliberate speculation or hyping up would not help handling of the matter,” Mao said.  “China is a responsible country. We act in accordance with international law. We have no intention in violating other countries’ air space," she added. "We hope relevant parties would handle the matter in a cool-handed way.” Mao added that she has no further information to share about US Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s upcoming visit to China.  What the US has said: The US government has engaged with the Chinese government both through the Chinese Embassy in Washington and the US diplomatic mission in China, according to a senior defense official. The official said Thursday that though the US has decided not to shoot the balloon down, it “will have options to deal with this balloon" if the risk level changes. "We have communicated to [Chinese officials] the seriousness with which we take this issue," said the official. "But we have made clear we will do whatever is necessary to protect our people and our homeland.” The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), the Canadian Armed Forces, Canada's Department of National Defence are all tracking the movements of the suspected spy balloon, said a statement from the defense department. NORAD spokesperson Col. Elizabeth Mathias said they are only tracking one balloon at this time, and that NORAD is unaware of any second phenomena.  NORAD is a combined organization of the United States and Canada that provides aerospace warning, air sovereignty, and protection for Canada and the continental United States.  “Canadians are safe and Canada is taking steps to ensure the security of its airspace, including the monitoring of a potential second incident,” said the Canadian Department of National Defense. It added that Canada’s intelligence agencies are working with American partners and “continue to take all necessary measures to safeguard Canada’s sensitive information from foreign intelligence threats.” A state-run nationalist website has accused the US of “hyping up China threat” on Friday, a day after reports in Western media of a high-altitude Chinese surveillance balloon flying over the continental US. The most prominent state media outlets, such as news agency Xinhua and state broadcaster CCTV have not reported on the incident. Only state-run nationalist tabloid the Global Times, which cited Western media reporting of the incident — including from CNN — to accuse the US of increasing tensions. “For a period of time, the United States has frequently used the claims of ‘China threat’ and ‘Chinese espionage theory’ to create a Cold War atmosphere and aggravate the tension in China-US relations,” it said on its website. “Cooperation between the US government and the media can incite public panic and suspicion about specific targets to achieve the government’s goals. Despite the pretense of the US and its Allies as “free-thinking” and enlightened democracies, their people are more susceptible to manipulation than any other in the world.” The surveillance balloon has traveled over the northern United States for several days, according to Pentagon spokesperson Brig. Gen. Patrick Ryder. “The balloon is currently traveling at an altitude well above commercial air traffic and does not present a military or physical threat to people on the ground,” Ryder said. A senior defense official said they were "confident" the balloon belongs to China, adding: “Instances of this activity have been observed over the past several years, including prior to this administration.” US national security officials have constantly warned about Chinese espionage efforts. Limited effectiveness: The US believes Chinese spy satellites in low Earth orbit are capable of offering similar or better intelligence, limiting the value of whatever Beijing can glean from the high-altitude balloon, which is the size of three buses, according to another defense official. Sensitive timing: The balloon’s presence in the US comes at a sensitive moment with Secretary of State Antony Blinken expected to travel to Beijing in the coming days, a significant trip meant to follow up on President Joe Biden’s meeting with Chinese leader Xi Jinping last year. Biden has declared China “America’s most consequential geopolitical challenge” and competition between the two major global military powers is intense. Read the full story here. US President Joe Biden has been briefed on the balloon’s movements and requested military options on how to deal with it, according to a senior administration official. Biden took advice not to order the balloon shot down, and the official stressed that it does not pose a military threat, emphasizing the administration acted “immediately” to protect against the collection of sensitive information. The senior defense official mentioned reports from Wednesday about a “ground stop” at Billings Airport in Montana, and the “mobilization of assets, including F-22s.” “The context for that was, it would put some things on station in the event that a decision was made to bring this down while it was over Montana,” the official said. “So we wanted to make sure we were coordinating with civil authorities to empty out the airspace around that potential area.” Not shot down: However, it was ultimately the “strong recommendation” of senior military leaders, including the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley, not to shoot it down due to the risk to safety of people on the ground. “Why not shoot it down? We have to do the risk-reward here,” the official said. “So the first question is, does it pose a threat, a physical kinetic threat, to individuals in the United States in the US homeland? Our assessment is it does not. Does it pose a threat to civilian aviation? Our assessment is it does not. Does it pose a significantly enhanced threat on the intelligence side? Our best assessment right now is that it does not. So given that profile, we assess the risk of downing it, even if the probability is low in a sparsely populated area of the debris falling and hurting someone or damaging property, that it wasn’t worth it.” Montana is home to fields of underground Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile silos, one potential target for Chinese espionage.
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