Beijing claimed the right to retaliate after the Pentagon shot down what it called a “spy balloon”
FILE PHOTO: A Raytheon-built AIM-9X Sidewinder infrared-guided air-to-air missile that was used on February 4, 2023 to shoot down a Chinese high altitude balloon © AP / Mark Farmer
China has blasted US President Joe Biden’s decision on Saturday to scramble an advanced F-22 stealth fighter jet to bring down a Chinese high altitude balloon – after it traversed the entire territory of the United States – as an “obvious overreaction” and a “serious violation of international practice.”
As the US military sent a salvage vessel to recover the debris that landed in shallow waters about 6 nautical miles off the coast of South Carolina, China’s Foreign Ministry issued a statement on Sunday morning, expressing its “strong dissatisfaction and protest against the US use of force to attack civilian unmanned airships.”
“China will resolutely uphold the relevant company’s legitimate rights and interests, and at the same time reserving the right to take further actions in response,” the ministry said.
President Biden said he initially wanted to shoot the balloon down as early as Wednesday, a day before the Pentagon first publicly acknowledged it had been “tracking” the suspicious craft. However, defense officials allegedly convinced him to wait until it was “safe” for people on the ground, arguing that it posed no threat to national security, despite traversing over multiple “sensitive” military locations at an altitude of around 18 kilometers (60,000 feet).
Thats how the Chinese Balloon was brought down down by US aviators.pic.twitter.com/c7HrEEXr57
— Abhishek Jha (@abhishekjha157) February 5, 2023
US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin accused China of using the balloon “in an attempt to surveil strategic sites in the continental United States,” in a statement after the “successful” air-to-air missile strike that brought it down above US territorial waters on Saturday.