‘Balloon is ours,’ claims China after US says ‘no intention’ to return debris

China on Tuesday doubled down on its claim to downed balloon after Washington expressed “no intention” to return the alleged spy article

“The balloon does not belong to the US, it belongs to China,” Mao Ning, spokeswoman for China’s Foreign Ministry, responded to a question that the US has no plans to return the debris from the Chinese balloon

“The US side should have properly handled the accident in a calm, professional manner, but the US insisting on the use of force is obviously an overreaction,” Mao said, according to the Chinese daily Global Times, insisting the balloon was for civilian use

She added Chinese government will “firmly safeguard its legitimate rights

” Beijing’s comments came after US National Security Council spokesman John Kirby had said there was “no intention to send the pieces back

” Also read: US failed to detect past Chinese spy balloons, Air Force general says “I know of no such intention or plans to return it," he told reporters on Monday, adding Washington is recovering debris from the downed Chinese balloon in the Atlantic for analysis by intelligence experts

The US shot down the suspected Chinese “spy” balloon on Saturday which had been spotted above US airspace off the coast of the state of South Carolina

China has since accused Washington of “damaging” progress made in bilateral relations by use of “indiscriminate force” to shoot down the alleged spy balloon

Chinese President Xi Jinping met with his US counterpart Joe Biden in Bali, Indonesia last November where the two sides had agreed to maintain high-level communication

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken was scheduled to travel to Beijing this weekend but postponed it due to the balloon incident

Beijing, however, has insisted that the “civilian” airship made an unintended entry into the US airspace due to force majeure

After the balloon was located by Washington, Beijing said it had conveyed to the US that it was a “civilian airship

” An F-22 fighter of the US Air Force fired an AIM-9X air-to-air missile and shot down the balloon, the Pentagon said on Saturday, despite admitting that the balloon did not pose a military or physical threat

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said the decision was made at the direction of US President Joe Biden

Date:08-Feb-2023 Reference:View Original Link