BEIJING (AP) — China said Wednesday it will take action against U.S. entities linked to the downing of a suspected Chinese spy balloon off the U.S. east coast.
In a daily briefing, Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin gave no details and did not identify the targets of the measures.
China claims the balloon was an unmanned weather blimp that accidentally veered off course and accuses the United States of overreacting by bringing it down with a missile fired from an F-22 fighter jet.
Since the balloon dropped on February 4, the United States has sanctioned six Chinese entities it says are linked to Beijing’s aerospace programs.
The U.S. House of Representatives then voted unanimously to condemn China for a “brazen violation” of U.S. sovereignty and efforts to “deceive the international community through false claims about its intelligence-gathering campaigns.” “. Secretary of State Antony Blinken also canceled a visit to Beijing that many hoped would stabilize ties that have crumbled amid disputes over trade, human rights, claiming Taiwan and China. on the South China Sea.
Although China denies the balloon was a military asset, it has not yet specified which ministry or government company was responsible for it.
After initially expressing regret over the balloon’s entry into US airspace, China returned espionage charges against Washington alongside its threats of retaliation.
“China firmly opposes it and will take countermeasures in accordance with law against relevant U.S. entities that undermine China’s sovereignty and security,” Wang said at Wednesday’s briefing.
China will “resolutely safeguard national sovereignty and legitimate rights and interests,” Wang said.
Also on Wednesday, US Ambassador to Japan Rahm Emanuel said the Chinese ball intrusion was part of a pattern of aggressive behavior by Beijing.
Emanuel noted China’s recent military-grade laser beam on a Philippine Coast Guard patrol vessel, the harassment of US aircraft by Chinese jets, and China’s opening of illegal police stations in the United States, in Ireland and other countries.
“For me, the ball is not an isolated incident,” Emanuel said.
If China wants to be a respected member of the international community, “then you act appropriately on certain basic premises. that is, you don’t open police stations in other countries ignoring their laws as if your laws have no borders,” he said.
“These are not exactly the qualities and characteristics of the good neighbor policy,” the ambassador said, referring to China’s openness to countries in the Asia-Pacific region.
On Tuesday, Japan’s Defense Ministry said at least three flying objects spotted in Japanese airspace since 2019 were strongly suspected of being Chinese spy balloons. He said he protested and demanded an explanation from Beijing.
On Wednesday, senior lawmakers from Japan’s ruling party said they were considering expanding the Self-Defense Forces Law to also include violations of Japanese airspace by foreign balloons.
Associated Press writer Mari Yamaguchi in Tokyo contributed to this report.
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