'Serious Violation of International Practice': Beijing Fumes After US Downs Chinese Surveillance Balloon
The US on Sunday downed the suspected Chinese spy balloon over the Atlantic Ocean. China has claimed that the balloon was merely a weather research "airship" that had been blown off course.
Washington/Beijing: The US military has downed the suspected Chinese spy balloon over the Atlantic Ocean and launched a mission to recover all the equipment from its debris, drawing a strong reaction from China which on Sunday warned of repercussions over America's use of force against its civilian unmanned airship. At the direction of President Joe Biden, the US military at 2.39 pm EST on Friday shot down the Chinese surveillance balloon in the Atlantic Ocean, some six miles (9.65 kms) away from the US shores in South Carolina, with no damage to the life and properties of Americans, a senior defence official told reporters in Washington.
Fighter aircraft from Langley Air Force Base in Virginia inspired a single missile into the balloon, causing it to crash into the ocean within the US territorial airspace, said the official, adding that as of now there are no indications that any people including US military personnel, civilian aircraft or maritime vessels were harmed in any way.
"I told them to shoot it down," Biden told reporters in Hagerstown, Maryland.
"On Wednesday, when I was briefed on the balloon, I ordered the Pentagon to shoot it down as soon as possible. They decided -- without doing damage to anyone on the ground -- the best time to do that was as it got over water, outside within the 12-mile limit," Biden said.
Responding to the downing of the balloon, China expressed strong dissatisfaction and opposition towards the US use of force to attack China's civilian unmanned airship, state-run Xinhua news agency cited a statement from the Chinese Foreign Ministry as saying on Sunday.
"The US insisting on the use of force is an obvious overreaction and a serious violation of international practice. China will resolutely uphold the relevant company's legitimate rights and interests, at the same time, reserving the right to take further actions in response,": said the Foreign Ministry statement in Beijing.
The Chinese side has, after verification, repeatedly informed the US side of the civilian nature of the airship and conveyed that its entry into the United States due to force majeure was totally unexpected, the statement said, noting the Chinese side has clearly asked the US side to properly handle the matter in a calm, professional and restrained manner.
China has claimed that the balloon was merely a weather research "airship" that had been blown off course.