Spy balloon shot down China expresses strong dissatisfaction

Spy balloon shot down: “China expresses strong dissatisfaction”

Beijing on Sunday expressed its “strong displeasure” after the United States shot down the Chinese balloon that had flown over its soil for several days, and said it reserved “the right” to retaliate.

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The mission, carried out by an F-22 fighter jet on Saturday, took place “over water off the coast of South Carolina, in American airspace,” said US Secretary of State Lloyd Austin in a press release. He stressed that this was done in response to an “unacceptable violation” of American “sovereignty.”

“China expresses strong dissatisfaction and protests the use of force by the United States,” China’s foreign ministry said in a statement, adding that it “reserves the right” to take retaliatory measures.

Washington “clearly overreacted” and “seriously violated international practices,” according to the same source.

The Pentagon claims it was a spy balloon. The balloon “was used by the People’s Republic of China to patrol strategic locations in the United States,” Mr. Austin said.

Mr. Biden congratulated the pilots who had “successfully” conducted this delicate operation. He said he gave orders on Wednesday to launch the balloon “as soon as possible,” but the Pentagon wants to await “the safest place to do it” to avoid damage to the ground when the balloon crashes .any debris.

This decision was also welcomed by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. “Together (…) we will continue to protect and defend ourselves,” he said in a tweet on Saturday.

Salvage operations, possibly involving divers, were now underway. The debris is in shallow water, “that’s going to make it pretty easy,” said a senior military official.

In videos broadcast by TV stations on Saturday, the ball appeared to fall vertically after impact.

At the time of launch, the balloon was about 18 kilometers above sea level and 11 kilometers from shore, according to Pentagon officials.

Shortly before, air traffic had been suspended at three airports in the southeastern United States as a “national security” measure, the American Civil Aviation Administration (FAA) said. There was one airport in North Carolina and two in South Carolina. Traffic resumed shortly after the end of the operation.

“Analyze Technology”

This case has shaken Washington-Beijing relations and led to the postponement of a visit to China by the head of American diplomacy, Antony Blinken.

The visit would have been the first by a US Secretary of State since October 2018.

According to Pentagon officials, the balloon first entered U.S. airspace on Jan. 28 over Alaska before entering Canada on Jan. 30 and then re-entering on Jan. 31 near Idaho in the northwestern United States entered American airspace, so Tuesday.

But the Americans only found out about the existence of the balloon on Thursday, when it was over Montana, where nuclear missile silos are located. He then gradually moved to the east of the country.

Beijing acknowledged that the plane came from China but assured it was a “civilian plane used for research purposes, mainly meteorological”.

It would have “deviated from its trajectory,” added a Chinese foreign ministry spokesman, expressing his country’s “regret” for this “involuntary” violation of American airspace.

“I applaud President Biden’s leadership for launching the Chinese balloon over water to ensure the safety of all Americans,” Senate Democrat Chuck Schumer tweeted on Saturday. “Now we can collect the equipment and analyze the technology used,” he added.

On Friday, the Pentagon said a second Chinese balloon had been sighted over Latin America.

“Chinese surveillance balloons have flown briefly over the United States at least three times during the previous administration, and once at the beginning of this administration, as far as we know, but never for as long,” a senior American official said Saturday.