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China on Monday accused the United States of indiscriminate use of force in shooting down a suspected Chinese spy balloon, saying it “seriously impacted and damaged both sides’ efforts and progress in stabilizing Sino-U.S. relations.”
The U.S. shot down the balloon off the Carolina coast after it traversed sensitive military sites across North America. China insisted the flyover was an accident involving a civilian aircraft.
Vice Foreign Minister Xie Feng said he lodged a formal complaint with the U.S. Embassy on Sunday over the “U.S. attack on a Chinese civilian unmanned airship by military force.”
“However, 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, obviously overreacted and seriously violated the spirit of international law and international practice,” Xie said.
The presence of the balloon in the skies above the U.S. dealt a severe blow to already strained U.S.-Chinese relations that have been in a downward spiral for years. It prompted Secretary of State Antony Blinken to abruptly cancel a high-stakes Beijing trip aimed at easing tensions.
Xie repeated China’s insistence that the balloon was a Chinese civil unmanned airship that blew into U.S. airspace by mistake, calling it “an accidental incident caused by force majeure.”
China will “resolutely safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese companies, resolutely safeguard China’s interests and dignity and reserve the right to make further necessary responses,” he said.
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