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China says US balloons have invaded its territory more than 10 times since 2022


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US balloons have flown over China “more than 10 times” since January 2022, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Wang Wenbin said on Monday.

“Since last year, US high attitude balloons have operated more than ten illegal flights in Chinese airspace without the approval of the respective authorities,” she said in response to a question from a journalist at a press briefing. Wang asked reporters to approach the US government for further clarification; he has not commented on the statement so far.

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The speech comes at a time of heightening tensions between Washington and Beijing, after a balloon belonging to an Asian country was detected flying over Billings, Montana, a region of American territory that houses a military base with intercontinental ballistic missile silos, at the beginning of the month.

The US maintains that the balloon was sent by China for espionage. This, in turn, says that it was a monitoring instrument for meteorological purposes.

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Since the incident, other unidentified flying objects have been observed over South America, Canada, the United States — and China itself, which claimed to have detected such an artifact near Qingdao, in the north of the country, on Sunday.

On the same date, the Pentagon shot down the third artifact of its kind in three days, flying over Lake Huron, on the border with Canada. The item, which had been detected for the first time in the state of Montana the day before and passed through military sites, had an octagonal structure that an American authority.

On Friday (10), a second high-altitude object flying over US territory had already been shot down. The item, which was passing through the state of Alaska, according to Washington, was detected on Thursday and was flying at an altitude of 12 km, bringing risks to civil aviation. On Saturday, another artifact was shot down, this time in a joint effort. US and Canada shot down the object that was flying over Yukon, in the north of the country.

A spokesman for the White House National Security Council said the objects do not resemble the Chinese balloon shot down earlier this month and declined to characterize them until the wreckage is recovered.

The recent cases have contributed to the deterioration of Sino-US relations and to the postponement of a visit by the head of US diplomacy, Secretary Antony Blinken, to China. He also weighs the expansion of the US military presence in Southeast Asia, which happens in parallel with China’s threats against Taiwan, an island that Beijing considers a rebel province.

Last week, the Chinese regime classified Biden’s speeches about Communist Party leader Xi Jinping as “totally irresponsible”. “Can you think of any other world leaders who would trade places with Xi Jinping? It’s not a joke. I can’t think of any,” the US president said in an interview with PBS NewsHour. “This man has huge problems. He also has a lot of potential, but so far his economy is not working very well.”

On the same day, China is said to have declined a call from US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin. He wanted to speak with his Chinese counterpart, Wei Fenghe, after the first balloon was shot down. Beijing justified the decision by saying that the measure was irresponsible and did not create a climate “conducive to dialogue”.

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