Chinese ‘spy’ balloon: China accuses US of use of force

The US shot down the hot air balloon off the coast of Carolina after it passed sensitive military sites across North America.

China on Monday accused the United States of indiscriminate use of force in shooting down a Chinese spy balloon, saying it “severely affected and damaged efforts and progress”. of both sides in stabilizing Sino-US relations”.

The US shot down the hot air balloon off the coast of Carolina after it passed sensitive military sites across North America. China insists the flyover was an accident involving a civilian aircraft.

Vice Foreign Minister Xie Feng said he had filed a formal complaint with the US Embassy on Sunday about “the US attack on a Chinese civilian drone by military force. “

“However, the United States covering its ears and insisting on the indiscriminate use of force against civilian airships about to leave US airspace is clearly an overreaction and a grave violation of the spirit of international law. and international practice,” Xie said.

The presence of hot air balloons in the skies over the United States dealt a heavy blow to already strained US-China relations that had been going downhill for years. It prompted Secretary of State Antony Blinken to abruptly cancel a visit to Beijing to ease tensions.

Xie echoed China’s insistence that the balloon was a Chinese civilian unmanned airship that accidentally blew into US airspace, calling it “a random incident caused by force majeure”.

China will “resolutely protect the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese companies, resolutely protect China’s interests and dignity, and reserve the right to make further necessary responses,” he said. “.

US officials said US President Joe Biden ordered the shoot down after being told that the best time to carry out the operation was when it was on the water. Military officials determined that lowering the balloon to the ground from a height of 60,000 feet would pose an undue risk to those on the ground.

“What the US has done has seriously affected and damaged both sides’ efforts and progress in stabilizing Sino-US relations since the Bali meeting,” Xie said, referring to the meeting. recently between Biden and his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, in Indonesia. Many hoped to create positive momentum to improve the relationship has dropped to a multi-year low.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Mao Ning did not provide new details on Monday, reiterating China’s insistence that the object is a civilian airship used for meteorological research, with little potential maneuverability and entered U.S. airspace by accident. She also did not say what additional steps China planned to take in response to Washington’s handling of the matter and the cancellation of Blinken’s trip, making him the highest-ranking US official to visit since. at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We have stated that this is purely a single and random incident caused by force majeure, but the US still deliberately exaggerates the incident and even uses force to attack,” Mao said during a press conference. daily press conference. “This is an irresponsible and unacceptable operation.”

Balloons believed to be from China have been discovered from Latin America to Japan. Japanese Deputy Chief of Staff Yoshihiko Isozaki told reporters Monday that a flying object similar to the one shot down by the US has been detected at least twice in northern Japan since 2020.

“We are continuing to analyze them in relation to the latest case in the United States,” he said.

Mao confirmed that a hot air balloon recently discovered in Latin America was Chinese, describing it as a civilian airship used for test flights.

Affected by the weather and due to limited self-control, the airship seriously deviated from its intended course and accidentally entered the space of Latin America and the Caribbean.

Washington and Beijing disagree on a range of issues from trade to human rights, but China is most sensitive to accusations of violations of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the United States and other countries.

Beijing strongly opposes US military arms sales to Taiwan and visits by foreign politicians to the island, which it claims as Chinese territory, to be withdrawn by force if necessary.

It reacted to the 2022 visit by then-US Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi by firing missiles over the island and holding military exercises that threatened to be seen as rehearsals for an invasion. or blockade. Beijing also cut off discussions with the US on issues including climate change unrelated to military tensions.

Last week, Mao warned Pelosi’s successor, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, not to go to Taiwan, implying that China’s response would be equally large.

“China will resolutely defend its sovereignty, security and development interests,” Mao said. McCarthy said China does not have the authority to dictate where and when he can travel.

China also protested when foreign military surveillance planes flew off its coast in international airspace and when warships from the US and other countries passed through the Taiwan Strait, accusing them of taking the initiative. provocative.

In 2001, a US Navy plane conducting routine surveillance near the Chinese coast collided with a Chinese fighter jet, killing the Chinese fighter pilot and damaging the US aircraft. , was forced to make an emergency landing at a Chinese naval airbase on the southern Chinese island. Hainan province. China detained a 24-member US Navy crew for 10 days until the US expressed regret over the death of the Chinese pilot and for landing on the base without permission. .

The South China Sea is another major source of tension. China claims virtually all of the strategically important sea and protests when US Navy ships pass by Chinese military features there.

In a Friday press conference with his South Korean counterpart, Blinken said “the presence of this surveillance balloon in the skies of the United States is a clear violation of our sovereignty, a clear violation of our sovereignty.” international law and is clearly unacceptable. And we’ve made that clear to China.”

“I think any country that has its airspace violated in this way would react similarly, and I can only imagine what the reaction in China would be if they were on the other end,” Blinken said.

Oriana Skylar Mastro, an expert on Chinese military affairs and foreign policy at Stanford University, said the Chinese hot air balloon explanation should be dismissed entirely.

“This is like a standard thing that countries often say about surveillance devices,” Mastro said.

Mastro said China may have made a mistake and lost control of the balloon, but it is unlikely it was a deliberate attempt to impede Blinken’s visit.

For the US administration, the decision to go public and then shoot down the balloon marks a departure from its usual approach of dealing privately with Beijing on such issues, which may be the case. in the hope of changing China’s behavior in the future.

However, Mastro believes that Beijing will not respond positively.

“They will probably ignore that and move on as it is. So I don’t see a really clear path to improving relations in the near future.” Chinese ‘spy’ balloon: China accuses US of use of force

Edmuns DeMars

Edmund DeMarche is a USTimesPost U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. Edmund DeMarche joined USTimesPost in 2023 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing

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