China says more than 10 US-made balloons flew over its airspace

Chi¬≠na claimed on Mon¬≠day that more than a dozen US high-alti¬≠tude bal¬≠loons have flown into its air¬≠space with¬≠out per¬≠mis¬≠sion in the past year, after Wash¬≠ing¬≠ton accused Bei¬≠jing of oper¬≠at¬≠ing sur¬≠veil¬≠lance bal¬≠loons around the world.

Chi­na’s accu­sa­tions came after the Unit­ed States shot down a Chi­nese spy bal­loon that crossed from Alas­ka to South Car­oli­na, spark­ing a new cri­sis in bilat­er­al rela­tions that have plunged to their low­est lev­el in decades.

For­eign min­istry spokesman Wang Wen­bin did not pro­vide any details, includ­ing how the US bal­loons were dis­posed of or whether they had ties to the gov­ern­ment or the military.

‚ÄúU.S. bal¬≠loons often ille¬≠gal¬≠ly enter oth¬≠er coun¬≠tries‚Äô air¬≠space,‚ÄĚ Wang said at the dai¬≠ly brief¬≠ing. ‚ÄúSince last year, US high-alti¬≠tude bal¬≠loons have ille¬≠gal¬≠ly flown over Chi¬≠na‚Äôs air¬≠space more than 10 times with¬≠out the approval of Chi¬≠nese authorities.‚ÄĚ

Wang said the U.S. ‚Äúshould first look at itself and cor¬≠rect its course, rather than slan¬≠der or foment conflict.‚ÄĚ

Chi­na claims the bal­loon shot down by the US was an unmanned aer­i­al vehi­cle intend­ed for weath­er research and veered off course. The Unit­ed States has shot it down, accus­ing it of over­re­act­ing and threat­en­ing unspec­i­fied action against it.

In the wake of the inci¬≠dent, many hoped that US Sec¬≠re¬≠tary of State Antho¬≠ny Brinken would be able to stem a sharp dete¬≠ri¬≠o¬≠ra¬≠tion in rela¬≠tions over Tai¬≠wan, trade, human rights and Chi¬≠na‚Äôs intim¬≠i¬≠dat¬≠ing actions in the South Chi¬≠na Sea.

Also on Mon¬≠day, the Philip¬≠pines accused a mil¬≠i¬≠tary laser of tar¬≠get¬≠ing a Chi¬≠nese coast guard ves¬≠sel in the South Chi¬≠na Sea, tem¬≠porar¬≠i¬≠ly blind¬≠ing some of its crew, in what it called a ‚Äúclear‚ÄĚ vio¬≠la¬≠tion of Mani¬≠la‚Äôs sovereignty.

Wang said a Philip¬≠pine coast guard ves¬≠sel intrud¬≠ed into Chi¬≠nese ter¬≠ri¬≠to¬≠r¬≠i¬≠al waters with¬≠out autho¬≠riza¬≠tion on Feb. 6, and the Chi¬≠nese coast guard ves¬≠sel respond¬≠ed ‚Äúpro¬≠fes¬≠sion¬≠al and restrained.‚ÄĚ Chi¬≠na owns most of its strate¬≠gic water¬≠ways and is steadi¬≠ly build¬≠ing up its mar¬≠itime forces and island outposts.

‚ÄúChi¬≠na and the Philip¬≠pines are com¬≠mu¬≠ni¬≠cat¬≠ing through diplo¬≠mat¬≠ic chan¬≠nels in this regard,‚ÄĚ Wang said. Chi¬≠na‚Äôs defense min¬≠istry did not imme¬≠di¬≠ate¬≠ly respond to ques¬≠tions on the matter.

Fur¬≠ther, on orders from Pres¬≠i¬≠dent Joe Biden, US fight¬≠er jets shot down an ‚Äúuniden¬≠ti¬≠fied object‚ÄĚ over Lake Huron on Sun¬≠day, rais¬≠ing ten¬≠sions. It was the fourth such down¬≠ing in eight days, and Pen¬≠ta¬≠gon offi¬≠cials say the anom¬≠aly in U.S. air¬≠space is unprece¬≠dent¬≠ed in peacetime.

The Chi¬≠nese bal¬≠loon shot down by the U.S. was rigged to detect and col¬≠lect sig¬≠nal infor¬≠ma¬≠tion as part of a huge mil¬≠i¬≠tary-linked aer¬≠i¬≠al sur¬≠veil¬≠lance pro¬≠gram cov¬≠er¬≠ing more than 40 coun¬≠tries, the Biden admin¬≠is¬≠tra¬≠tion said on Thurs¬≠day. cit¬≠ing an image of the U‚ÄĎ2 spy plane.

Gen¬≠er¬≠al Glenn Van Hark, who heads NORAD and the U.S. North¬≠ern Com¬≠mand, said at a press con¬≠fer¬≠ence that one of the rea¬≠sons for the repeat¬≠ed down¬≠ings was ‚Äúincreased vig¬≠i¬≠lance‚ÄĚ fol¬≠low¬≠ing the alle¬≠ga¬≠tions of Chi¬≠nese spy balloons.

As part of its response to the inci­dent, the Unit­ed States has imposed eco­nom­ic restric­tions on six Chi­nese com­pa­nies asso­ci­at­ed with Bei­jing’s aero­space program.

The U.S. House of Rep¬≠re¬≠sen¬≠ta¬≠tives also vot¬≠ed unan¬≠i¬≠mous¬≠ly to con¬≠demn Chi¬≠na for its ‚Äúbla¬≠tant vio¬≠la¬≠tion‚ÄĚ of U.S. sov¬≠er¬≠eign¬≠ty and its efforts to ‚Äúdefraud the inter¬≠na¬≠tion¬≠al com¬≠mu¬≠ni¬≠ty with false claims about its intel¬≠li¬≠gence-gath¬≠er¬≠ing campaign.‚ÄĚ

Chi¬≠nese spokesman Wang said, ‚ÄúIt is an over¬≠re¬≠ac¬≠tion that the US fre¬≠quent¬≠ly shoots down objects with advanced missiles.‚ÄĚ

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