February 8, 2023
BEIJING – China has strongly protested the United States’ overreaction to the entry of a Chinese unmanned civilian airship into US airspace, saying that Washington’s handling of the incident was a test of its sincerity in stabilizing and improving bilateral ties as well as its approach to crises.
Vice-Foreign Minister Xie Feng made “a stern demarche” with the US embassy in China on Sunday after Washington shot down the airship, which China had confirmed to be a civilian airship for research purposes that had deviated far from its planned course.
“China has already stated that it is completely an unexpected and accidental incident caused by force majeure. But the US turned a deaf ear and insisted on indiscriminate use of force against the civilian airship that was about to leave the US,” Xie said.
The US obviously overreacted, and seriously violated the spirit of international law and international practice, he said.
Xie said that the Chinese government is closely following the development of the situation, will resolutely safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese companies and reserves the right to make further necessary responses.
Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning said on Monday that China has been communicating with the US and demanded that it appropriately deal with the situation in a calm and professional way.
“We hope the US will work with China to properly handle our differences, avoid miscalculation and misunderstanding, and refrain from harming our mutual trust,” she said.
Mao also confirmed that another balloon, spotted over Latin America, was an unmanned civilian airship from China on a test flight that severely deviated from its course and accidentally entered Latin American and Caribbean airspace.
“As a responsible country, China always strictly abides by international law and has briefed related countries about the situation in order to properly handle it. The airship poses no threat to any country, and all parties said they understand it,” she said.
In a statement issued on Sunday, Venezuela’s Foreign Ministry said the nation supports dialogue to peacefully resolve conflicts. It also condemned the attack by the United States on the Chinese airship that exhibited a technical malfunction and “did not pose any military or physical threat”.
Karen Kwiatkowski, a former Pentagon analyst, told Russian news agency Sputnik that the incident had given Washington the pretext it needs to feed anti-China hysteria amid tectonic shifts being witnessed in the global geopolitical and economic order.
Speaking on CNN, Philip Mudd, a former Central Intelligence Agency and Federal Bureau of Investigation agent, said “we twisted ourselves around a balloon for days in Washington DC”.
“Look, if the Chinese want to collect photos of America, you could get to Google Earth; you could get a Chinese secret satellite if they want to intercept communications. They could do it with satellites,” he said.