PanamaTimes

Thursday, May 23, 2024

War of words over downed Chinese spy balloon continues as US recovers debris

War of words over downed Chinese spy balloon continues as US recovers debris

Beijing lodges formal complaint with US embassy as Washington throws criticism back at China
The diplomatic row has escalated over the Chinese high-altitude balloon that flew across the US before being shot down, as the first wreckage was salvaged off the Atlantic coast.

Beijing on Monday accused the US of “overreaction” and the “indiscriminate use of military force” in shooting down a Chinese balloon, warning of damage to bilateral relations.

Joe Biden said that relations between Washington and Beijing had not been weakened by the incident, telling reporters: “We made it clear to China what we’re going to do. They understand our position. We’re not going to back off.”

A state department spokesperson, Ned Price, pointed out that the secretary of state, Antony Blinken, had warned his counterpart, Wang Yi, on Friday that the US would take “appropriate actions to protect our interests”.

“It should not have come as a complete surprise” to Beijing when the balloon was shot down the following day, Price said.

If it had been a US airship over China, “you can only imagine the response from Beijing”, he added.


The Pentagon said the first bits of debris had been found on the ocean surface off the South Carolina coast, while work continued to find the bits and pieces that had sunk to the sea bed. It called on the public to report any fragments that washed up on shore.

The White House national security spokesperson, John Kirby, said the United States was able to study the balloon while it was flying and officials hope to glean valuable intelligence on its operations by retrieving as many components as possible.

The head of North American Aerospace Defence (Norad) Command, General Glen VanHerck, described the balloon as being 200 feet (61 metres) high, with a surveillance payload the size of a regional passenger jet.

When it was first spotted passing over the US Aleutian Islands, the general said he decided not to shoot it down.

“It was my assessment that this balloon did not present a physical military threat to North America – this is under my Norad hat – and therefore, I could not take immediate action because it was not demonstrating hostile act or hostile intent,” VanHerck told reporters.

He said the aircraft was able to manoeuvre to some extent by taking advantages of different wind directions at different altitudes, and that the balloon’s route appeared to have been deliberately planned to navigate those currents.

China has claimed the aircraft was a weather balloon that had been blown off course. The country’s vice-foreign minister, Xie Feng, lodged a formal complaint with the US embassy on Sunday over the incident, accusing Washington of overreacting to an accident “caused by force majeure”, according to a statement posted on the Chinese foreign ministry website.

“The facts are clear … but the United States turned a deaf ear and insisted on indiscriminate use of force against the civilian airship that was about to leave the United States airspace. It obviously overreacted and seriously violated the spirit of international law and international practice,” Xie was quoted as saying.

He accused Washington of “dealing a serious blow” to efforts and progress in stabilising China-US relations since Joe Biden’s summit with Xi Jinping in November.

“China resolutely opposes and strongly protests this, and urges the US to refrain from taking further actions to harm China’s interests and to escalate tensions,” he said.

VanHerck said that an amphibious dock landing ship, the USS Carter Hall, would serve as the command vessel for the debris search, and that a navy oceanographic vessel was mapping below the surface to search for debris.

Rough seas have hindered the search, but he said navy divers on rigid inflatable boats had begun work on Monday morning with the help of unmanned underwater vehicles, and that by the afternoon, more would be known about the location of large pieces of submerged debris.

The incident came amid tensions over issues including Taiwan, trade and human rights. It also prompted Antony Blinken, the US secretary of state, to postpone a visit to Beijing.

On Monday, the Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Mao Ning said the incident tested “the US’s sincerity in stabilising and improving Sino-US relations”.

She said: “The US deliberately exaggerated and hyped [the incident] and even used military force to attack. This is unacceptable and irresponsible.”

She also admitted that the balloon spotted over Latin America belonged to China but said it was a civilian airship used for flight tests that entered the airspace of Latin America and the Caribbean “by accident”.

Yoshihiko Isozaki, the Japanese deputy chief cabinet secretary, said on Monday that a flying object thought to be Chinese and similar to the one shot down by the US, had been spotted at least twice over northern Japan since 2020, the Associated Press reported.

China has previously objected when foreign military surveillance planes flew off its coast in international airspace. In 2001, a US navy plane conducting routine surveillance near the Chinese coast collided with a Chinese fighter plane, killing the Chinese fighter pilot and damaging the American plane, which was forced to make an emergency landing at a Chinese naval airbase on the southern island of Hainan. China detained the 24-member US navy aircrew for 10 days until the US expressed regret.

Prof William Hurst, the deputy director at the Centre for Geopolitics at the University of Cambridge, said the balloon incident had occurred in a much more negative climate than the spy plane incident. “The public revelation complicated domestic politics in the US, which were already fraught,” he said. “Its effect will likely be smaller, but take longer to unwind.”

VanHerck, the Norad chief, said the military had not detected previous spy balloons before this one and called it an “awareness gap.”

However, he said US intelligence determined previous flights after the fact based on “additional means of collection” of intelligence.
Newsletter

Related Articles

PanamaTimes
0:00
0:00
Close
El Salvador's Bitcoin Holdings Reach $350 Million
Teens Forming Friendships with AI Chatbots
WhatsApp Rolls Out Major Redesign
Neuralink's First Brain Implant Experiences Issue
Apple Unveils New iPad Pro with M4 Chip, Misleading AI Claims
OpenAI to Announce Google Search Competitor
Apple Apologizes for Controversial iPad Pro Ad Featuring Instrument Destruction
German politician of the AFD party, Marie-Thérèse Kaiser was just convicted & fined $6,000+
Changpeng Zhao Sentenced to Four Months in Jail
Biden Administration to Relax Marijuana Regulations
101-Year-Old Woman Mistaken for a Baby by American Airlines: Comical Mix-Up during Flight Check-in
King Charles and Camilla enjoying the Inuit voice singing performance in Canada.
New Study: Vaping May Lower Fertility in Women Trying to Get Pregnant
U.S. DOJ Seeks Three-Year Sentence for Binance Founder Changpeng Zhao
Headlines - Thursday, 23 April 2024
Illinois Woman Wins $45M Lawsuit Against Johnson & Johnson and Kenvue for Mesothelioma Linked to Baby Powder
Panama's lates news for Friday, April 19
Creative menu of a Pizza restaurant..
You can be a very successful player, but a player with character is another level!
Experience the Future of Dining: My Visit to an AI-Powered Burger Joint
Stabbing rampage terror attack in Sydney, at least four people killed, early reports that a baby was among those stabbed.
Iran fired more than 300 drones and missiles at Israel overnight. Israel Reports Light Damage After Iran Launches Large Strike.
I will never get enough of his videos and the pure joy and beauty of these women!!
Scientists at the University of Maryland have developed an "invisibility cloak", for AI using adversarial patterns on a sweater, making the wearer nearly undetectable to standard object detection methods.
Lamborghini Bids Farewell to Its Best-Selling Sports Car: The Huracán
Sam Bankman-Fried Appeals 25-Year Prison Sentence for $8bn FTX Fraud
OJ Simpson, ex-NFL star who was acquitted of murder, dies aged 76
British Backpacker Imprisoned in Notorious Bolivian Prison: Family Raises Funds for Legal Fight and Essentials
Argentina: Venezuela Cuts Power to Embassy after Opposition Meeting
El Salvador Offers 5,000 Passports to Skilled Foreign Workers: Tax-Free Relocation and Citizenship
Panama Papers Trial Begins: Founders of Mossack Fonseca Face Money-Laundering Charges
75 Becomes the New 65: Retiring in Your 60s Unrealistic as Life Expectancy Increases and Costs Rise
Total Solar Eclipse of 2021: 32 Million Witness the Mystical, $1.5bn Spectacle Sweep Across North America
New shopping experience…
New world, new reality, let’s get used to it
UK Company Passes Milestone in Developing Space-Based Solar Power, Aiming to Power a Million Homes and Provide Constant Energy
Mexico Breaks Diplomatic Ties with Ecuador after Police Storm Embassy, Arrest Former Vice President
Monty Python were so ahead of their time
If there's a will, there's a way!
Rules about how to dress are important, but not so much if you have a lot of money.
Body Armor Firm Showcases Stab-Proof Vest in Demo on CEO
Mexico Cuts Diplomatic Ties with Ecuador After Embassy Stormed in Quito
Here is a tattoo idea, for engineers
Zoraya Ter Beek, a 28-year-old woman from the Netherlands, will undergo euthanasia in May due to severe mental health challenges
Here's a video featuring Fidel Castro, where he discusses his stance against war and his commitment to preserving life, positions that have put him at odds with the USA:
Woman reaches behind and steals gun from a security guard and shoots three people while getting detained in Chile
Take a walk around the safe and thriving downtown San Salvador.
Joe Biden criticised by Trump campaign for declaring Transgender Day of Visibility on Easter Sunday
Macron says France will help Brazil develop nuclear-powered submarines
A video demonstrating women's self defense class in 1930
×