China has threatened “further action” over a “serious overreaction” by the US in shooting down a suspected spy balloon.
white plane shot out of the sky off the coast of south carolina on saturday After days of intrigue, diplomatic relations between Washington and Beijing have further deteriorated.
us president joe biden The order was ordered to shoot down the object, which a defense official said was a spy balloon China Intended for use in sensitive military locations.
But Chinese officials insisted it was a meteorological and scientific research device that was blown off course.
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“China will resolutely safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of the companies concerned, while reserving the right to take further actions,” Beijing’s foreign ministry said in a statement on Sunday.
It added that Biden’s order was a “clear overreaction” and a “serious violation of international conventions”.
The balloon was shot down by an F-22 about six nautical miles off the US coast south carolinanear Myrtle Beach, ships deployed in the water for recovery operations.
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The US president said he had hoped to shoot down the balloon when it was first spotted over Billings, Montana, Wednesday – A nuclear missile silo site near Malmstrom Air Force Base.
It flew over the Aleutian Islands, not far from the coast Alaskaand pass Canada before entering the United States.
But Mr Biden said he was advised to wait until it was above the water because of the risk of falling debris.
“They managed to bring it down and I want to commend our pilots,” he said on Saturday.
Before the action, the FAA said flights were suspended at three airports, including Myrtle Beach International Airport, due to “national security efforts.”
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Operational comparison of Top Gun
The act of releasing the balloon caught the attention of the ground personnel.
Some, including local Peter Flynn pictured above, gathered in Myrtle Beach to watch the plane get hit, while others were caught off guard.
“I didn’t expect to wake up in Top Gun Today’s movie,” said Ashlyn Preaux, who watched fighter jets circle from her home in Forestbrook, South Carolina, before the balloon crashed.
It has been flying between 60,000 feet and 65,000 feet.
what happened next
U.S. officials hope to recover debris from the downed balloon, which was spread over a seven-mile radius.
The U.S. Coast Guard, Navy and FBI are all involved in recovery efforts, and divers and an unmanned submarine are expected to scour the seafloor in the coming days.
“Our goal is to harvest a potential goldmine of information” that investigators might want to reconstruct the balloon’s payload and learn from, Sky’s US correspondent Mark Stone said.
As U.S.-China relations head toward a Cold War-style standoff, China may feel pressure to respond
Undoubtedly, shooting down spy balloons is an upgrade.
There is no doubt that this is an escalation that Americans feel they have no choice but to accept, but it is difficult for both sides to back down.
If China’s initial response was relatively apologetic, saying it “regrets” what it said was a weather balloon that “accidentally” fell into U.S. airspace, their tone is decidedly angrier now.
Simple denial is part of the Chinese playbook. Even if the Americans say they can prove from the collected debris that the balloon was spying, they may accuse those claims of trying to “smear” China.
The problem is that just as the US would feel pressure to open fire, the Chinese may also feel pressure to retaliate in some form, especially if it insists it is a civilian vessel.
The seemingly small intelligence gains have come at a huge diplomatic cost, with many experts weighing in that it is unlikely that such balloons will gather more information than satellites.
Perhaps the intent was provocation or testing the limits, but either way tit-for-tat action became inevitable in a relationship that was slowly sliding into a Cold War-style confrontation.
Recent proposals from both sides that they should work to prevent further deterioration in the relationship felt a long way off this morning
The spat between the two superpowers over the balloon target comes at a sensitive time in their relationship, which has been rocky for years.
It prompted US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken Sudden cancellation of trip to Beijingwhich would likely require considerable diplomatic effort on both sides to organize.
At a meeting during last year’s G20 summitChinese President Xi Jinping It has been recognized that competition among nations must not evolve into conflict.