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The United States shot down a Chinese spy balloon, China expressed strong dissatisfaction and threatened the right to make further necessary responses

A suspected Chinese spy balloon hit by a missile over the coast of Carolina, USA, on February 2023, 2.
A suspected Chinese spy balloon was hit by a missile over the coast of Carolina, USA, on February 2023, 2.

WASHINGTON — The U.S. military shot down a Chinese high-altitude reconnaissance spy balloon flying over U.S. airspace on Saturday afternoon local time. China expressed strong dissatisfaction and protest against this, saying that this move violated international practice and would reserve the right to take further action.

China’s Foreign Ministry issued a statement on Sunday morning Beijing time, pointing out: “The US side insists on using force, which is obviously overreacted and seriously violates international practice.” China will resolutely safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of relevant enterprises while reserving the right to make further necessary responses. ”

China’s Defense Ministry protested on Sunday against the U.S. “attack” on Chinese civilian unmanned airships, calling it a “clear overreaction.”

“We solemnly protest this approach by the US side and reserve the right to use necessary means to deal with similar situations,” China’s Defense Ministry said in a statement.

The U.S. military shot down a suspected Chinese spy balloon off the Carolinas coast Saturday as it traveled through sensitive military sites across North America. China insisted that the airship was civilian in nature and that entering the United States due to force majeure was a complete accident, and demanded that “the United States properly handle it in a calm, professional and restrained manner.”

U.S. President Joe Biden ordered the balloon down, but he hopes to shoot it down early Wednesday. U.S. officials said Biden was told the best time to act was when the balloon flew over the sea. Military officials determined that shooting it down from 6,<> feet onto land would pose an unnecessary risk to people on the ground.

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Biden said after getting off Air Force One on his way to Camp David: “They managed to shoot it down and I want to commend our pilots. ”

The giant white orb, which was approaching the Atlantic coast, was spotted over the Carolinas Saturday morning. At about 2:39 p.m. ET, an F-22 fighter jet-fired a missile into the balloon, shooting it down about 6 nautical miles off the coast near Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, senior defense officials said.

A senior U.S. military official said multiple fighter jets and a tanker were involved in the mission, but only one F-22 fighter from Langley Air Force Base in Virginia shot down the balloon using an AIM-9X supersonic thermal air-seeking air-to-air missile.

Debris splashed in 47-foot water, shallower than officials expected, covered a range of about 7 miles, and the recovery operation included several boats. Officials estimate that the recycling effort will be completed in a short period of time, not weeks. A salvage ship is on its way to the splashed sea.

U.S. Defense Secretary Austin issued a statement Saturday afternoon saying that this afternoon, at the direction of President Biden, U.S. Northern Command U.S. fighter jets successfully shot down a high-altitude surveillance balloon flying over the coast of South Carolina in the People’s Republic of China (PRC). The balloon is used by China to monitor strategic locations in the continental United States.

The statement said that, at the direction of the President, the Department of Defense developed a program for safely shooting down balloons over our territorial waters, while closely monitoring the path of the balloons and intelligence-gathering activities. This action was undertaken with the coordination and full support of the Government of Canada.

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Today’s thoughtful and lawful actions demonstrate that President Biden and his national security team will always put the safety and security of the American people first while effectively responding to China’s unacceptable violations of our sovereignty, the statement stressed.

The balloon appeared over the United States this week, an incident that dealt a heavy blow to tense U.S.-China relations that had been spiraling for years, while also prompting Secretary of State Antony Blinken to abruptly cancel a high-stakes trip to Beijing aimed at easing tensions.

U.S. defense and military officials said Saturday that the balloon entered the U.S. air defense zone north of the Aleutian Islands on Jan. 1 and moved over Alaska before entering Canada’s airspace in Northwest Territories on Monday. On Tuesday, the balloon crossed back into U.S. territory over northern Idaho, and the White House said Biden was briefed on the news for the first time that day.

The balloon was spotted Thursday over Montana, home to Malmström Air Force Base which has many nuclear missile silos.

Two senior defense officials said the U.S. side was able to gather intelligence as the balloon flew over the United States, giving them days to analyze it and understand how it was moving and what it was able to monitor. The officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, briefed reporters.

Officials said the U.S. military was constantly assessing the threat and concluded that the technology on the balloon did not provide China with more important intelligence than it already had from satellites, despite U.S. measures to reduce the information it might gather as it traveled.

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Although the downing of a Chinese spy balloon on Saturday ended the spying incident at the military level, Biden is likely to continue to face intense political scrutiny from Republican opponents in Congress who argue that Biden is not acting quickly enough.

A senior administration official said the U.S. government communicated directly with China about the operation after shooting down the balloon. The State Department also briefed allies and partners around the world on the situation, the official said.

There are still many questions about how much information China may have collected as the balloon crossed the United States.

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