China accuses US of indiscriminate use of force over balloon
BEIJING — China on Monday accused the United States of indiscriminate use of force when the US military shot down a suspected Chinese spy balloon on Saturday.
The United States shot down a balloon off the coast of Carolina after passing through sensitive military sites across North America. China has insisted the overflight was an accident involving a civilian aircraft.
Vice Foreign Minister Xie Feng said he filed a formal complaint with the US Embassy on Sunday for “the US attack on a Chinese civilian unmanned airship by military force”.
The balloon’s presence in the sky over the United States dealt a severe blow to already strained US-China relations that have been on a downward spiral for years. That prompted Secretary of State Antony Blinken to abruptly cancel a high-stakes trip to Beijing aimed at easing tensions.
Xie repeated China’s insistence that the balloon was a Chinese civilian unmanned airship that blew on the US mistake, calling it “an accidental incident caused by force majeure.”
China “will resolutely safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese enterprises, resolutely safeguard China’s interests and dignity, and reserve the right to make other necessary responses,” he said.
US President Joe Biden issued the order to shoot down after being told the best time for the operation would be over water, US officials said. Military officials determined that dropping the balloon above the earth from an altitude of 60,000 feet (18,000 meters) would pose an undue risk to those on the ground.
“What the United States has done has seriously impacted and damaged both sides’ efforts and progress in stabilizing China-US relations since the Bali meeting,” Xie said, referring to the recent meeting between Biden and Biden. his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping in Indonesia that many hoped for. would create positive momentum to improve ties that have hit their lowest level in years.