China on Monday accused the United States of indiscriminate use of force in shooting down a suspected Chinese spy balloon, saying it “seriously impacted and damaged both sides’ efforts and progress in stabilizing Sino-U.S. relations.”
The United States fired down the balloon off the coast of North Carolina after it crossed vital military installations across North America. China stated that the flyby was a civilian aircraft accident.
Vice Foreign Minister Xie Feng said he lodged a formal complaint with the U.S. Embassy on Sunday over the “U.S. attack on a Chinese civilian unmanned airship by military force.”
“However, the United States turned a deaf ear and insisted on indiscriminate use of force against the civilian airship that was about to leave the United States airspace, obviously overreacted and seriously violated the spirit of international law and international practice,” Xie said.
The existence of the balloon above the United States delivered a major blow to U.S.-Chinese ties, which have been spiraling downward for years. It caused Secretary of State Antony Blinken to unexpectedly abandon a high-stakes trip to Beijing intended to defuse tensions.
Xie reiterated China’s claim that the balloon was a Chinese civil unmanned blimp that erroneously entered U.S. territory, describing the event as “an accident caused by force majeure.”
China will “resolutely safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese companies, resolutely safeguard China’s interests and dignity and reserve the right to make further necessary responses,” he said.
According to U.S. authorities, President Joe Biden issued the shoot-down order after being advised that the operation would be most effective over water. Officials from the military assessed that lowering the balloon down over land from a height of 60,000 feet would pose an unacceptable risk to the people on the ground.
“What the U.S. has done has seriously impacted and damaged both sides’ efforts and progress in stabilizing Sino-U.S. relations since the Bali meeting,” Xie said, referring to a recent meeting between Biden and his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, in Indonesia that many hoped would create positive momentum for improving ties that have plunged to their lowest level in years.
Monday, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning provided no new information, reiterating China’s position that the object was a meteorological research balloon with limited steering capabilities that strayed into U.S. airspace by accident. She did not elaborate on the extra measures China planned to take in reaction to Washington’s handling of the matter and cancellation of Blinken’s trip, which would have made him the highest-ranking U.S. official to visit China since the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus.
“We have stated that this is completely an isolated and accidental incident caused by force majeure, but the U.S. still hyped up the incident on purpose and even used force to attack,” Mao said at a daily briefing. “This is an unacceptable and irresponsible action.”
From South America to Japan, Chinese-origin balloons have been identified or suspected. Yoshihiko Isozaki, the Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary of Japan, told reporters on Monday that an object comparable to the one shot down by the United States has been detected over northern Japan at least twice since 2020.
“We are continuing to analyze them in connection with the latest case in the United States,” he said.
Mao stated that the Chinese balloon recently sighted above Latin America was a civilian airship undergoing flight testing.
“Affected by weather and due to its limited self-control ability, the airship severely deviated from its set route and entered the space of Latin America and the Caribbean by accident,” Mao said.
Washington and Beijing are at odds over a variety of issues, from trade to human rights, but China is most sensitive about purported infringement of its sovereignty and territorial integrity by the United States and others.
Beijing objects vehemently U.S. arms sales to Taiwan and trips by foreign leaders to the island, which it claims as Chinese property to be reclaimed by force if necessary.
More on this story via The Western Journal:
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