China now threatens ‘U.S. entities’ in response to spy balloon being shot down and claims America flew airships over Tibet and Xinjiang
- Diplomatic tensions between Washington and Beijing are at a boiling point
- Foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin claims the U.S. has ‘overreacted’
- Follows report the Biden administration tracked the spy balloon for a week
China warned it would take countermeasures against U.S. entities in response to American fighter jets shooting down its surveillance balloon amid tense diplomatic relations.
Beijing’s foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin also claimed the U.S. has flown high-altitude balloons flew over its Xinjiang and Tibet regions after the White House rejected claims they were behind any flights.
Wang didn’t reveal any details and did not identify the targets of the measures, but claims the U.S. overreacted by scrambling F-22s to down the spy balloon and used it as a pretext to sanction Chinese-linked companies.
It follows a report that the Biden administration was tracking the balloon for a week from the moment it took off from Hainan Island
China warned it would take countermeasures against U.S. entities in response to American fighter jets shooting down its surveillance balloon amid tense diplomatic relations
The Chinese have said its balloon was a civilian research vessel mistakenly blown off course, and that Washington overreacted.
This week, China countered that U.S. balloons had flown over its airspace without permission more than 10 times on round-the-world flights since May 2022.
‘Without the approval of relevant Chinese authorities, it has illegally flown at least 10 times over China’s territorial airspace, including over Xinjiang, Tibet and other provinces,’ Wang told a regular daily briefing on Wednesday.
‘The U.S. has abused force, overreacted, escalated the situation, and used this as a pretext to illegally sanction Chinese companies and institutions,’ Wang said.
‘China is firmly opposed to this and will take countermeasures against relevant U.S. entities that undermine China’s sovereignty and security in accordance with the law,’ Wang said, without specifying the measures.
The balloon dispute has delayed efforts by both sides to mend relations, although President Joe Biden has also said that he does not believe ties between the two countries were weakened by the incident.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who postponed a planned trip to Beijing over the balloon, is considering meeting China’s top diplomat Wang Yi in Munich this week, sources have said.
The balloon took off from Hainan Island off southern China at the end of January, and entered U.S. airspace on January 28 above Alaska. It briefly entered Canada and crossed back into U.S. territory over northern Idaho on January 30, the day the White House said Biden was first briefed on it.
The balloon traversed the United States, passing over multiple sensitive sites, before being shot down as soon as it passed over the sea.
The Pentagon said it was too risky to shoot down over land.
But on Tuesday, The New York Times reported the balloon was being monitored right from the moment it took off.
‘In a sign of how closely the United States had been monitoring the balloon surveillance program directed by the Chinese military recently, U.S. officials said in interviews that they began tracking the spy balloon as it lifted off from Hainan Island in southern China in late January,’ the paper reported.
Republicans have demanded to know why it was not shot down sooner, and Tuesday’s report will only serve to increase their volume.
The balloon was struck by a missile from an F-22 fighter just off Myrtle Beach, fascinating sky-watchers across a populous area known as the Grand Strand for its miles of beaches that draw retirees and vacationers.
A report from the Washington Post details that the airship, which triggered a dramatic – and very public – spying saga that worsened Chinese-U.S. relations has been a key part of Beijing’s intelligence operations for years.
The report says that the Chinese military has previously sent balloons into the airspace of geopolitical rivals such as Japan, India and the Philippines.
The Pentagon earlier said that at least four other balloons were previously detected over US airspace, in Hawaii, Florida, Texas and Guam, three of those were during Donald Trump’s presidency.
Over the weekend, more balloons were shot down over Alaska, Canada’s Yukon province, and Lake Huron.
Beijing’s foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin also claimed the U.S. has flown high-altitude balloons flew over its Xinjiang and Tibet regions after the White House rejected claims they were behind any flights
Members of the Navy recover debris from the Chinese spy balloon off the coast of South Carolina after it was shot down on February 4 by a F-22
Republican senators are turning up the heat on President Biden to address the public after four floating objects were shot down over the U.S. in a matter of eight days
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