“China expresses strong indignation and protest against. The use of force by the United States to attack unmanned. Civilian plane,” Beijing’s foreign ministry said in a statement.
BEIJING: The Biden administration praised the Pentagon for shooting down. An alleged Chinese spy balloon off the US Atlantic coast on Saturday. But China angrily expressed its “deep displeasure.” At the move and said it could issue a “necessary response”.
A missile fired from an F-22 fighter jet flew over North America for several days. Before being targeted off the coast of the southeastern state of South Carolina. Pentagon officials said, falling only 47 feet (14 meters) in relatively shallow water. . deep
US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin called the operation a “deliberate. And lawful action” in response to China’s “unacceptable violation of our sovereignty”.
But China’s foreign ministry criticized the US move in a statement on Sunday morning. Saying the downing of the “civilian” plane was “a clear overreaction. And a serious violation of international practice”.
The military’s first chance Saturday afternoon was to move the balloon “in a way. That doesn’t pose a threat to the security of Americans,” he told reporters. Allowing authorities to collect fallen debris from U.S. territorial waters.
In eyewitness videos posted on social media, the balloon disintegrated. In a white puff before its remains fell vertically into the Atlantic Ocean below.
Twitter user Haley Walsh posted that she “heard and felt an explosion” in Myrtle Beach. A popular resort town in South Carolina.
President Joe Biden, who earlier Saturday promised to “take care.” Of the balloon, congratulated the fighter pilots involved.
“They successfully landed it. And I want to commend our Airmen who did it,” Biden told reporters in Maryland.
The controversy began on Thursday, when American officials. Said they were tracking a large Chinese “surveillance balloon” over US skies.
That led U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken. On Friday to cancel a rare visit to Beijing designed to contain rising U.S.-China tensions.
After initial hesitation, Beijing acknowledged ownership. Of the “airship” but said it was a civilian weather balloon. That must have blown up and that it “regretted” the episode.
But after Saturday’s operation, the Foreign Ministry expressed China’s “strong displeasure. And protest against the US use of force on unmanned civilian plane”.
Instead of responding in a “moderate manner,” the ministry said in its statement. “The US insisted on the use of force, clearly overreacting.”
“China will firmly protect the legitimate rights and interests of relevant enterprises. And reserves the right to make further necessary responses,” the statement added.
The balloon first entered US airspace over Alaska on January 28. Pentagon officials told reporters on Saturday. Before drifting over Canada and then returning to the US a few days later.
It was not the first time in recent history that such a plane had flown over US territory. The senior defense official said, although it was the longest in the country. Three of the balloons were spotted during Donald Trump’s presidency. And one before the Biden administration.
Biden told reporters he ordered the ship to be brought down “as soon as possible” on Wednesday.
“They decided — without harming anybody on the ground … that the best time to do it was to go over the water,” Biden said.
According to the senior defense official, the military determined. That the plane did not pose a major threat to the United States during. its flight and “the overflight of the surveillance balloon. Over US territory was of intelligence value to us,” he added. , without details.
Balloons over five continents
Teams are already working to recover the remains of the balloon. A senior military official said on Saturday.
The balloon flew over parts of the northwestern United States. Including the state of Montana — that are home to sensitive airbases. And strategic nuclear missiles in underground silos.
“We are confident that it was looking to watch. Sensitive military sites,” the senior defense official said.
Republican lawmakers were quick to pounce on the balloon incident, casting Biden. who has largely preserved and sometimes expanded. Trump’s hawkish policies on China — as weak.
On Saturday afternoon, after temporarily closing three Southeast airports for “national security” efforts. The Federal Aviation Administration opened airspace along the Carolinas coast.
Another suspected Chinese spy balloon has been spotted. Over Latin America, the Pentagon said Friday. Without elaborating.
“Over the past several years. Chinese balloons have been spotted earlier in countries on five continents.