China’s Foreign Ministry on Saturday said it “strongly disapproves of and protests” the United States’ decision to shoot down a spy balloon that had been in U.S. airspace for the last several days and warned that it may take unspecified “responses” to that action.
“China strongly disapproves of and protests against the U.S. attack on a civilian unmanned airship by force,” the Foreign Ministry said.
“The Chinese side has, after verification, repeatedly informed the U.S. side of the civilian nature of the airship and conveyed that its entry into the U.S. due to force majeure was totally unexpected.
“The Chinese side has clearly asked the U.S. side to properly handle the matter in a calm, professional and restrained manner,” it added.
“The spokesperson of the U.S. Department of Defense also noted that the balloon does not present a military or physical threat to people on the ground.”
“Under such circumstances, the U.S. use of force is a clear overreaction and a serious violation of international practice,” the Foreign Ministry added.
“China will resolutely safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of the company concerned, and reserves the right to make further responses if necessary.”
China’s harsh reaction came a day after it warned the US not to take any action against the surveillance balloon, claiming that US politicians and the media “hyped up” the incident in order to “attack and smear China.”
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs also insisted that China has “no intention to violate and has never violated the territory or airspace of any sovereign country,” despite the fact that the Pentagon determined that the balloon was “manoeuvrable” and had been floating through U.S. airspace at 60,000 feet for a few days.
The official government response in China was mirrored in the country’s state-owned news services. The Xinhua News Agency accused the US military and media of “hyping” the China threat by flying a spy balloon over the country.
“The U.S. is being urged to be more sincere in making concrete moves to solve problems with China, instead of making more provocations, analysts said,” Xinhua reported.