The claim: Biden asked China for permission to shoot down spy balloon
"The Chinese Balloon has been shot down after Biden called the Chinese President and asked for his permission to shoot it down," reads the post.
The post is from Terrence K. Williams, a comedian, but commenters took the claim seriously and reacted accordingly. It was shared more than 400 times in 10 days.
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Our rating: False
There is no evidence Biden asked Chinese President Xi Jinping for permission to shoot down the balloon. A spokesperson for the White House told USA TODAY the claim was false.
Biden didn't ask China for permission to down balloon, White House says
A fighter jet fired a single air-to-air missile and hit the balloon on Feb. 4, as USA TODAY previously reported. At the time, the balloon was flying at about 65,000 feet and was six miles off the South Carolina coast. The incident was caught on video.
There are no credible reports that Biden asked Jinping for permission before downing the balloon.
"This is false," Andrew Bates, a White House spokesperson, told USA TODAY.
Biden had ordered that the balloon be shot down days earlier, but officials worried about debris harming people on the ground. He explained his decision-making process while taking questions from reporters days after the balloon was taken down.
"Once (the balloon) came into the United States from Canada, I told the Defense Department I wanted to shoot it down as soon as it was appropriate," Biden said. "They concluded we should not shoot it down over land, it was not a serious threat and we should wait until we got across the water."
China claimed the object was a weather balloon thrown off course, but State Department officials have said it carried devices used to intercept sensitive communications. The situation prompted Secretary of State Antony Blinken to cancel a planned trip to China.
USA TODAY reached out to Williams for comment.
Our fact-check sources:
Andrew Bates, Feb. 13, Email exchange with USA TODAY
USA TODAY, Feb. 4, US downs suspected Chinese spy balloon off Carolina coast
Associated Press, Feb. 7, Biden on Chinese balloon: 'We did the right thing'
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Fact check: No, Biden didn't ask China for permission to down balloon