Shooting down of airship balloon over Atlantic damaged ties with US: China

Beijing, Feb 6 (EFE).- China Monday accused the United States of seriously damaging bilateral ties by shooting down a Chinese civilian airship balloon over the Atlantic.

Vice Foreign Minister Xie Feng said that the unmanned civilian aircraft had strayed into US airspace accidentally before the US shot it down on suspicion of spying on key military sites across America.

“The United States’ actions have seriously impacted and damaged both sides’ efforts and progress in stabilizing Sino-US relations since the Bali meeting,” Xie said in a note to the US embassy in Beijing, according to a foreign ministry statement.

The vice minister referred to a summit between presidents Joe Biden and Xi Jinping in November, which was widely seen as the first step to normalizing deteriorating ties between the two powers.

Xie described Washington’s reaction as “exaggerated” and accused it of “seriously violating the spirit of international law.”

He said that China was paying close attention to the development of the situation.

“(China) reserves the right to make further necessary reactions…(to) protect the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese enterprises and uphold the interests and dignity of the country.”

The US shot down the balloon on Saturday on a direct order by President Biden.

Washington said the Chinese balloon had been flying over the country for several days.

The remains of the airship fell into the sea and were being salvaged to know the details of a mission “used by the PRC (People’s Republic of China) in an attempt to surveil strategic sites in the continental United States,” the US Defense Department said.

China admitted on Friday that the balloon belonged to it, assuring that “it is a civilian airship used for research purposes, mainly meteorological.”

Washington said that the balloon’s route passed over several “potentially sensitive” sites, which contradicts Beijing’s explanation.

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.

On Friday, the Pentagon said they detected a second Chinese balloon flying over Latin America. Beijing has not yet responded to the claim. EFE


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