Beijing’s diplomacy again attacked this Monday (6) the decision of the United States to shoot down a Chinese balloon, accused by Washington of spying activities. According to the Asian country, the artifact was civilian and intended for meteorological research.
“These actions seriously impact and undermine both sides’ efforts and progress to stabilize Sino-US relations,” Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Xie Feng said in a note sent to the US embassy in Beijing and more. afternoon published on the chancellery’s website.
The text highlights that the country “is firmly opposed to the decision and protests vehemently against it”, also stating that the Xi Jinping regime will monitor the developments of the situation.
On Saturday afternoon (4), a US Air Force fighter shot down a Chinese balloon off the coast of South Carolina. Days earlier, the discovery of the artifact led to a dispute between the two parties, with the postponement of a trip to Beijing by the Secretary of State, Antony Blinken.
The displacement of the person in charge of American diplomacy would take place precisely in the context of efforts to bring the powers closer together, after Xi met personally with President Joe Biden in November, in Indonesia, following months of high tension – in the face of commercial, diplomatic discussions and military.
More recently, however, the climate had turned sour again, with the US having announced in Manila an agreement for the use of four more military bases in the Philippines, expanding its presence in the South China Sea, a region claimed by Beijing.
Washington detected the alleged high-altitude spy balloon on January 28. Three days later, the artifact passed into Canadian airspace and returned to American airspace on the 31st. Only on Thursday (2) did the Pentagon report the case.
Biden had given orders for the military to take down the balloon as quickly as possible, but defense authorities had to wait until it began to fly over the Atlantic Ocean, at risk of debris reaching civilian areas – the equipment would be the equivalent of three buses.
The balloon toured the country over seven days, which provoked reactions both inside and outside the government, with the Pentagon saying it violated US sovereignty and Republicans criticizing the handling of the case.
The finding has baffled security experts, who say that while countries have used satellites to keep tabs on each other, balloons sound like a somewhat amateurish spy tactic: the images they manage to produce aren’t much more valuable in terms of information than those produced from space. For some, then, the artifact would be a political provocation.
On Saturday, Beijing had given a tough response to the decision to scrap the item. “The fact that the US has insisted on the use of armed force is clearly an excessive reaction, which violates international conventions,” the chancellery said in a statement. “China will defend the legitimate rights and interests of the company involved and reserves the right to respond in the future in similar situations.”
The Asian country had been saying that the object was civilian and that its presence in American airspace was “totally accidental”.
Analysts see the Chinese message, however, more as a warning, pointing out that any response will be calibrated to the smallest detail, in order to avoid an even more serious deterioration in relations.
On Sunday, US military officials said operations to rescue the wreckage of the balloon were continuing. The Navy, responsible for the case, has the help of the Coast Guard.
Recovering the equipment is seen as essential to ascertaining the purpose of the dropped artifact and gaining access to China’s spying capabilities.
The balloon was shot down by an F-22 fighter off the coast of South Carolina, about 6 nautical miles (11 km) from the shore. Images published on social media captured what would be the moment of slaughter. The cargo and the wreckage of the balloon would have fallen into water that was not very deep.
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