US Fighter Jets Shoot Down Chinese Balloon; China Says It Reserves Right To Respond To Downing
Washington: US local media reported Saturday that in a “national security effort”, three US airports were shut down and a suspected Chinese spy balloon was shot down off the country’s east coast.
The Chinese balloon, roughly the size of three buses, had been tracked in US airspace, the Pentagon said on Friday. The Chinese aircraft is believed to have surveillance capabilities.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has cancelled his upcoming historic trip to Beijing as a sign of protest against the intrusion of US airspace by China.
China said on Friday an “airship” that is flying over the United States is for civilian meteorological and other scientific purposes and expressed regret that it strayed into US airspace.
On Saturday, US President Joe Biden released a short statement saying that “we will take care of it.” Both the White House and the Pentagon said that the Chinese balloon does not present a military or physical threat to people on the ground.
Beijing on Sunday blasted the Pentagon’s decision to shoot down an alleged Chinese spy balloon spotted flying over North America, accusing the United States of “clearly overreacting and seriously violating international practice”.
The Chinese foreign ministry criticized the United States for downing its balloon.
“China expresses its strong dissatisfaction and protest against the U.S. using force to attack civilian unmanned airships,” the statement said.
The ministry asserted that they told the U.S. that the suspected spy balloon was an airship “for civilian use and entered the US due to force majeure, which was completely accidental. China clearly requires the US to handle it properly in a calm, professional and restrained manner.”
China noted that the U.S. Department of Defense stated that the balloon did not pose a military or personal threat.
“In these circumstances, for the United States to insist on using armed force is clearly an excessive reaction that seriously violates international convention,” the statement said. “China will resolutely defend the legitimate rights and interests of the enterprise involved, and retains the right to respond further.”
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