China vows to defend ‘rights and interests’ after US wrecks balloon

Beijing, Feb 7 (EFE).- Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Mao Ning said on Tuesday that the airship recently shot down by the United States belonged to China, and therefore Beijing would continue to protect its “legitimate rights and interests.”

Late on Monday, US National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby said that Washington had no intention of returning the debris of the device to Beijing.

Mao reiterated on Tuesday that the airship was of civilian use and had veered off its original path due to force majeure, state daily Global Times said.

She added that this was an accident that never put American citizens or national security in any danger.

Mao repeated that the US should have handled the incident in a “calm and professional” manner and said Washington’s reaction was very exaggerated.

However, a day earlier, the spokesperson had said she had no information to share about a firm that may have owned the now-destroyed airship.

On Monday, Chinese vice foreign minister Xie Feng had accused the US of seriously harming bilateral relations.

On Saturday, US authorities shot down the balloon that had been flying over the country for several days, with the debris of the airship falling in the sea and being recovered for further investigation.

The discovery of the “spy balloon” in US airspace triggered a diplomatic crisis between the US and China.

It led to the suspension of a Beijing visit by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken scheduled for the last weekend. EFE


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