China Accuses US Of ‘Overreacting’ After Jets Shoot Down Suspected Spy Balloon

China has expressed “strong dissatisfaction and protest” at Washington’s decision to fire down its balloon, accusing the US of “overreacting” and “seriously violating international practice.”

US fighter planes shot down the balloon over the Atlantic Ocean on Saturday, a mission that President Joe Biden hailed as a success.

The US suspects the balloon was used for espionage, but China claims it was a civilian research vessel blown off course.

On Sunday morning local time, shortly after the balloon was shot down, China’s Foreign Ministry issued a statement expressing “strong dissatisfaction and protest against the US’s use of force to attack a civilian unmanned aircraft.”

“The Chinese side has repeatedly informed the US side after verification that the airship is for civilian use and entered the US due to force majeure — it was completely an accident,” the Foreign Ministry stated.

“China clearly asked the US to handle it properly in a calm, professional and restrained manner. A spokesman for the US Department of Defense also stated that the balloon will not pose a military or personal threat to ground personnel,” the statement continued.

“China will resolutely safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of relevant companies, while reserving the right to make further necessary reaction,” the ministry added.

US officials have rebuffed China’s repeated assurances that the dropped balloon was only for civilian use and had entered American airspace by “accident.”

“This was a PRC (People’s Republic of China) surveillance balloon. This surveillance balloon purposely traversed the United States and Canada and we are confident it was seeking to monitor sensitive military sites,” a senior US administration official said.

According to the official, a second balloon seen over Central and South America was “another PRC surveillance balloon” with comparable technological characteristics to the one seen over the United States.

“Both balloons also carry surveillance equipment not usually associated with standard meteorological activities or civilian research,” the official said. “Collection pod equipment and solar panels located on the metal truss suspended below the balloon are a prominent feature of both balloons.”

Officials from the Pentagon stated earlier this week that the balloon presented no “military or physical” threat. Due to the potential of falling debris injuring a civilian, the US decided against shooting down the balloon while it was still over land and instead waited until it was over the ocean.

The US military will now concentrate on debris recovery.

The incident is the latest in a string of espionage allegations that has sparked a diplomatic crisis between Beijing and Washington.

Taiwan weighs in

Taiwanese authorities, however, declared on Sunday that the Chinese balloon incident “should not be tolerated by the civilized international community.”

Taiwanese authorities, however, declared on Sunday that the Chinese balloon incident “should not be tolerated by the civilized international community.”

The self-governing island, which China claims as part of its territory despite never having held it, has seen identical balloons overfly its territory.

“Such actions by the Chinese Communist Party government contravene international law, breach the airspace of other countries, and violate their sovereignty,” Taiwan’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement, calling on China’s government to “immediately cease conduct of this kind that encroaches on other countries and causes regional instability.”

Balloons thought to be used for “meteorological observations” were seen flying over the island. According to Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense, this will happen in September 2021 and February 2022.

However, it is unclear whether those balloons were the same as the one shot down by US fighter jets on Saturday.




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