China claims more than 10 US balloons flew over its airspace in the past year

China says the balloon shot down by the United States was an unmanned craft built for meteorological research and that it overreacted in shooting it down.

BEIJING, February 13 (AP) — More than 10 American balloons of high altitude flew over the chinese airspace during the last year without permission of Beijingas stated on Monday by the authorities after the accusations of Washington that Beijing operates a balloon fleet spy all over the world.

The remarks came just days after the United States shot down an alleged Chinese spy balloon that had crossed from Alaska to South Carolina. The incident triggered a new crisis in bilateral relations, which are at their lowest point in decades.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin did not provide details about the alleged US balloons, how they were handled, or whether they had military or government ties.

“It is also common for balloons from the United States to illegally enter other countries’ airspace,” Wang told a daily ministry briefing. “Since last year, US high-altitude balloons have illegally flown over Chinese airspace more than 10 times without authorization from Chinese authorities.”

Wang said the United States should “reflect on itself first and change course, instead of smearing and fomenting confrontation.”

China says the balloon shot down by the United States was an unmanned craft built for meteorological research that had drifted off course. He has accused the United States of going overboard in shooting him down and has threatened unspecified action in retaliation.

The downing involved a Chinese spy balloon he had tracked earlier this month off the North Carolina coast. Photo: Europa Press.

Following the incident, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken canceled a visit to Beijing that many hoped would halt a sharp decline in bilateral relations over differences over Taiwan, trade, human rights and threatening Chinese actions in the disputed Sea. from South China.

Also on Monday, the Philippines accused the Chinese coast guard of attacking a Philippine coast guard ship with a military laser and temporarily blinding some of its crew in the South China Sea, calling it a “blatant” violation of the sovereign rights of Manila.

Wang said the Philippine coast guard ship had entered Chinese waters without permission on February 6 and the Chinese coast guard had responded “in a professional and restrained manner.” China claims virtually all of the strategically important sea as its own and has bolstered its forces and outposts on islands in the area.

Sailors assigned to Explosive Ordnance Disposal Group 2 recover a high-altitude surveillance balloon off the coast of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, on February 5, 2023. Photo: US Navy via AP.

Continuing the escalation of tensions, a US fighter plane shot down an “unidentified object” over Lake Huron on Sunday on the orders of US President Joe Biden. It was the fourth object shot down in eight days, in an extraordinary succession of events over US airspace that Pentagon officials say is unprecedented in peacetime.

The Chinese balloon shot down by the United States was equipped to detect and gather intelligence signals as part of a massive military aerial espionage program against more than 40 countries, the Biden administration said Thursday, citing footage taken by U.S. spy planes. 2.

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