China Claims Right to Retaliate After Balloon Is Downed

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Recriminations filled the diplomatic skies on the day after the United States destroyed a Chinese balloon.

“China strongly disapproves of and protests against the US attack on a civilian unmanned airship by force,” the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement issued Sunday, according to the South China Morning Post.

The statement said the shoot-down broke all the rules. The U.S. has labeled the aircraft a spy balloon and China has tried to claim was an errant civilian balloon.

The U.S. military shot down the balloon at about 2:40 p.m. Saturday off the coast of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. It had transited the country over the course of a week at an altitude of about 60,000 feet.

“For the United States to insist on using armed force is clearly an excessive reaction that seriously violates international convention,” the statement said, according to The New York Times.

An unspecified threat followed.

“China will resolutely defend the legitimate rights and interests of the enterprise involved, and retains the right to respond further,” the statement said.

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