What did China say after the US shot down the surveillance balloon?
It’s a bird? It’s a plane? It’s a Chinese weather/spy balloon! Beijing responds to President Biden’s move to pop the country’s balloon. What did they say?
The Chinese balloon that entered US airspace on Friday is said by US officials to be a vehicle for espionage by the Chinese government. This notion has been flatly rejected by officials in Beijing, who have described the flying object as a “civilian airship used for research, mainly meteorological, purposes.”
There has been some debate as to whether or not the military should have shot down the balloon earlier. Some commentators have pointed out that if the object did present a real threat to national security, that action would have been taken earlier.
Beijing responds to balloon pop
The balloon saga has reached levels of absurdity that seem commonplace in American politics today, with the final pop of the balloon being broadcast across most major news outlets. After President Biden called for the balloon shot down over the Atlantic coast, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Beijing responded.
“China expresses its strong dissatisfaction and protest against the US’s use of force to attack civilian unmanned airships,” began the statement. In a previous press release, Chinese officials had said that the balloon was primarily focused on collecting meteorological data.
“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, which was completely accidental,” continued the Ministry.
Officials had hoped that the US would “handle it properly in a calm, professional and restrained manner.” Before the balloon was taken out, officials at the Ministry noted that “a spokesman for the US Department of Defense [...] stated that the balloon [did] not pose a military or personal threat to ground personnel.”
Chinese officials said that they were concerned with the US decision to use force and saw the response as an ‘obvious overreaction’ and a violation of “international practices.”
Worse, too, is that the event seems to have exacerbated already high tensions between the two countries.
The statement ends with Chinese officials reporting that the country “will resolutely safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of relevant companies, while reserving the right to make further necessary reactions.”
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Worsening relations between Washington and Beijing
This event comes as ties between the two largest economic superpowers are strained.
The Chinese believe that “some politicians and media in the US have hyped it up to attack and smear China,” which they are “firmly opposed to.”
After Russia invaded Ukraine, China’s opposition to participating in the Western sanctions regime has irritated US officials. While the two sides have remained committed to open communication, in light of these events, Secretary of State Anthony Bliken has announced that he will suspend his planned trip to China in March. No public notice of the trip had been made before Sec. Blinken’s decision to cancel, but the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that the decision “is a matter for the US [...], and we respect that.”
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