The US military has shot down a suspected Chinese spy balloon over the Atlantic Ocean and launched a mission to recover all of its equipment, prompting a strong reaction from China, which warned of repercussions for America’s use of force against its civilian unmanned airship on Sunday.
The US military shot down the Chinese surveillance balloon in the Atlantic Ocean, six miles (9.65 kilometers) away from the US shores in South Carolina, at 2.39 p.m. EST on Friday, with no damage to American lives or property, a senior defense official told reporters in Washington.
According to the official, fighter aircraft from Langley Air Force Base in Virginia inspired a single missile into the balloon, causing it to crash into the ocean within US territorial airspace, and there are no indications that any people, including US military personnel, civilian aircraft, or maritime vessels, were harmed in any way.
In response to the balloon’s downing, China expressed strong dissatisfaction and opposition to the US use of force to attack China’s civilian unmanned airship, according to a statement from the Chinese Foreign Ministry released on Sunday.
“The US insisting on the use of force is an obvious overreaction and a serious violation of international practice. “China will steadfastly defend the relevant company’s legitimate rights and interests while reserving the right to take further actions in response,” said a Foreign Ministry statement in Beijing.
The Chinese side has repeatedly informed the US side of the airship’s civilian nature and conveyed that its entry into the US due to force majeure was completely unexpected, according to the statement, noting that the Chinese side has clearly asked the US side to properly handle the matter in a calm, professional, and restrained manner.
According to Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin, fighter aircraft assigned to US Northern Command successfully brought down a high-altitude surveillance balloon launched by and belonging to the People’s Republic of China (PRC) over the water off the coast of South Carolina in US airspace at the direction of President Biden.
China claims the balloon was simply a weather research “airship” that was blown off course.
The action of bringing down the balloon the size of three buses was carried out in collaboration with and with the full support of the Canadian government. Defence officials told US media that the debris landed in 14m of water near Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, which was shallower than expected.
According to the Pentagon official, they took immediate steps to protect against the balloon’s collection of sensitive information, reducing its intelligence value to China.
By shooting the balloon down, it addressed the surveillance threat posed to military installations while also neutralizing any intelligence value it could have produced, preventing it from returning to China.
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