China Inflates Balloon Tensions by Doubling Down on U.S. Overflight Declare

China is doubling down on the declare that American balloons have overflown its airspace with out permission regardless of a collection of flat-out denials by senior officers in the USA.

Wang Wenbin, a spokesperson for the Chinese language overseas ministry, mentioned at a press briefing on Tuesday that high-altitude balloons launched from the continental U.S. for “ongoing world circumnavigation” illegally entered China’s airspace and in addition overflew different nations “not less than greater than 10 occasions” since Could 2022.

A day earlier, Wang mentioned the 10-time determine was relevant from January 2022. He supplied no extra particulars concerning the alleged operations or the character of the craft—whether or not navy or civilian—and did not disclose whether or not Beijing lodged demarches with Washington in response.

Requested about China’s photographic or different proof, Wang mentioned: “The U.S. wants to completely look into this and provides China a proof.”

Above, Chinese language overseas ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin hosts a press convention on the Ministry of International Affairs in Beijing on August 8, 2022. On February 14, 2023, Wang accused the USA of overflying China’s airspace with greater than 10 high-altitude balloons since Could 2022, a declare U.S. officers have strenuously denied.
NOEL CELIS/AFP through Getty Pictures

The stunning discovery of the Chinese language-claimed craft over North American airspace, which Beijing mentioned was by accident infringed upon by an errant climate balloon, all however derailed each governments’ hopes for constant high-level dialogue.

China reacted angrily after U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken postponed his go to to Beijing, whereas the White Home mentioned the Chinese language navy “isn’t ” in chatting with U.S. Protection Secretary Lloyd Austin, whose division in the end could possibly be answerable for disclosing the Pentagon’s findings to the American public.

Wendy Sherman, the U.S. deputy secretary of state, was unequivocal when requested concerning the Chinese language counterclaim on Monday. The American diplomat mentioned, “there are not any U.S. authorities balloons over the Folks’s Republic of China—none, zero, interval.”

Washington was “completely assured” that the Chinese language balloon shot down off the coast of South Carolina earlier this month was “a surveillance equipment,” Sherman mentioned.

Earlier Monday, a State Division spokesperson informed Newsweek China was “scrambling to do harm management.”

“It has repeatedly and wrongly claimed the surveillance balloon it despatched over the USA was a climate balloon and to this present day has failed to supply any credible explanations for its intrusion into our airspace and the airspace of others,” they mentioned in a press release.

Nationwide Safety Council spokesperson John Kirby, talking on the White Home on the identical day, mentioned the U.S. was “not flying surveillance balloons over China.”

“There isn’t any U.S. surveillance plane in Chinese language airspace,” he mentioned.

Operations to salvage the Chinese language high-altitude balloon and its payload—the dimensions of three busses—was nonetheless ongoing, mentioned Kirby. “There isn’t any query in our minds that that system was designed to surveil, that that was an intelligence asset.”

“Now, in gentle of the Chinese language balloon program,” Kirby mentioned, nearer examination of U.S. and Canadian airspace by NORAD could partly clarify the detection of three as but unidentified flying objects shot down by American fighter plane in latest days.

In contrast to the spy balloon downed in shallower Atlantic waters on February 4, the three extra UFOs fell in “fairly distant terrain—ice, wilderness, all of that—making it tough to search out them in winter climate,” he mentioned. The one shot down over Lake Huron “now lies in what might be very deep water.”

China has repeatedly referred to as the U.S. choice to shoot down its balloon an overreaction. It additionally has described the extra shoot-downs alongside the identical strains.

“The U.S. must be cautious to not pull a muscle whereas flexing so arduous,” mentioned Wang.

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