'US overreacted by using force,' says Chinese Foreign Ministry on 'spy balloon' issue
In a response to the White House's statement on suspected 'spy balloons' being a part of a PRC fleet of balloons developed to conduct surveillance operations, the Chinese Foreign Ministry on Thursday said that the US overreacted by using force and that the narrative is probably part of the information and public opinion warfare Washington has waged on China.
During a regular press conference on Thursday, the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning said that the unmanned Chinese civilian airship into US airspace is entirely caused by "force majeure."
"On the airship, the Chinese side has repeatedly shared its information. The unintended, unexpected entry of the unmanned Chinese civilian airship into US airspace is entirely caused by force majeure. The Chinese side has made that clear in its communication with the US side time and again, yet the US overreacted by using force. China firmly opposes and deplores this. I am not aware of any "fleet of balloons," the official readout of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China quoted Mao Ning as saying.
The suspected Chinese 'spy balloon' was shot down by the US military over the Atlantic Ocean earlier this week.
Moreover, Mao Ning also took a jibe at Japan and said that it should adopt an objective and fair position on the airship incident instead of dramatizing it like the US.
Speaking further, Mao Ning, the Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson said that in terms of reconnaissance and surveillance, the US leads the world and also has global intelligence programs that have been ongoing for a while. She blamed the US for threatening China's national security and undermining regional peace and stability.
"The US is the number one country in surveillance and reconnaissance. It has long-running intelligence programs across the globe. US aircraft and warships frequently conduct close-in reconnaissance around China, which seriously threatens China's national security and undermines regional peace and stability. The Chinese side has repeatedly voiced our grave concerns. The US needs to put an immediate end to such provocations," the Spokesperson said.
The ties between the US and China have always been dicey due to Beijing's territorial claims over the Indo-Pacific.
China's remarks came after White House Press Secretary Karine Jean Pierre on Wednesday responded to a media query on whether China is using balloons to spy on Japan, Taiwan, and some other Asian allies. She said that the balloons are part of a PRC fleet of balloons developed to conduct surveillance operations.
"So these balloons are all part of a PRC fleet of balloons developed to conduct surveillance operations, as you know which have also violated the sovereignty of other countries. And over the past several years, Chinese balloons have previously been spotted over countries across five continents. We have been in touch with allies and partners on this issue," Jean Pierre said during the briefing.
The US State Department official earlier said the balloon was part of a Chinese fleet developed to carry out "surveillance operations" with a manufacturer linked to China's People's Liberation Army (PLA), as per the CNN report.
The official suggested that the US is eyeing sanctions for the presence of the balloon in US airspace which the administration has repeatedly termed a "violation of US sovereignty and international law."
Earlier on February 4, US Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin in a statement said that US fighter aircraft assigned to US Northern Command successfully shot down the high-altitude surveillance balloon belonging to China over the water off the coast of South Carolina in US airspace.
He said that the balloon which was used by China in an attempt to surveil strategic sites in the continental US was shot down above US territorial waters.
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