China criticized the American military’s action on Saturday to fire down a rumored Chinese spy balloon that had flown over the country the previous week.
According to the South China Morning Post, the Chinese Foreign Ministry issued a statement on Sunday morning that “seriously disapproves of and protests against the U.S. attack on a civilian unmanned airship by force.”
Beijing has the right to take “additional responses that are necessary,” the ministry stated, calling the U.S.’s use of force “a clear overreaction and a serious violation of international practice.”
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On January 28, an Alaskan “high-altitude surveillance balloon” entered American airspace for the first time. On January 31, it returned to the U.S. via Idaho after briefly passing through Canadian airspace, and then spent the remainder of the week flying across the nation.
Beijing acknowledged the balloon was Chinese on Friday, but asserted that it had been blown off course and was primarily intended for meteorological research.
According to a ministry official, “The Chinese side regrets the inadvertent entry of the airship into US airspace owing to force majeure.”
Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s travel to Beijing on Friday was postponed as a result of the balloon’s surveillance of “strategic facilities” inside the United States, according to American sources.
A senior State Department official stated, “We have taken note of the [People’s Republic of China] message of remorse, but the presence of this balloon in our airspace is a clear breach of our sovereignty and of international law, and it is intolerable that this has happened.”
In a statement released on Saturday, the Chinese Foreign Ministry retaliated against the United States, claiming that some lawmakers and the media had “hyped” the situation in an effort to “attack and slander China.”
Due to safety concerns, the U.S. military waited until Saturday afternoon, when the balloon was over ocean off the coast of South Carolina, to shoot it down. According to officials, they are currently working to recover debris and intelligence data.
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