Spy balloons are igniting tension again between China and the US
The Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman said that American balloons have illegally flown over China more than ten times since the beginning of 2022, in a diplomatic dispute that resulted from the monitoring and shooting down of a control balloon suspected of being Chinese in American airspace.
“It’s not uncommon for US airships to illegally enter another country’s airspace,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin Wang told reporters at a regular press briefing in Beijing on Monday.
He added, “The United States needs to study itself and change course, rather than slander other countries and incite confrontation”.
He continued, “We reserve the right to take the necessary means to deal with the relevant incidents”.
However, the US government rejected the accusations that many balloons were flown at high altitudes over China.
John Kirby, director of communications for the US National Security Council, said: “It’s not true, we didn’t do that… Absolutely not true… We don’t fly balloons over China”.
Earlier, Wang said, “It’s very common for US high-altitude balloons to enter other countries”.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman said that Washington had sent planes and ships to collect information about China, adding that 64 such sorties were recorded this year in the South China Sea.
He added that the United States monitored communications and conversation messages from leaders of European countries, including Germany, France, Norway, Sweden and the Netherlands.
He confirmed that the Chinese airship that entered US airspace last week was a “completely unforeseen individual incident resulting from force majeure” and said that he had “no information” about any other unidentified flying objects that were detected in American airspace.
Officials said Sunday that Washington has now shot down a total of four drones, the most recent of which was over Lake Huron on the orders of US President Joe Biden.
“We’ve been able to determine that China has an intelligence-gathering high-altitude balloon program associated with the People’s Liberation Army,” Kirby told reporters at the White House on Monday.
He added that this “was working during the previous administration, but they didn’t figure it out, and we found out… We tracked him down…We study it carefully to learn as much as possible”.
“We know that these (Chinese) surveillance balloons have crossed dozens of countries on multiple continents around the world, including some of our closest allies and partners,” Kirby said, adding that Washington is consulting with allies and partners on this matter.
Kirby also said that on Monday, Biden directed an interagency team to study the broader policy implications of detecting, analyzing and eliminating such aerospace objects, which he said posed either safety or security risks.