China’s State Department has summoned the charge d’affaires at the American embassy in Beijing to protest the US military’s shooting down of a suspected Chinese spy balloon.
Vice Foreign Minister Xie Feng said in a meeting with the charge d’affaires at the American embassy in Beijing on Sunday, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said on Sunday that the balloon’s entry was just an “accident” caused by “force majeure”. “The facts are clear and cannot be twisted.”
Despite this, the US “played deaf” and insisted on “abusing force against a civilian airship that was about to leave US airspace.” It was an “obvious overreaction” and violated “the spirit of international law and international norms,” the Deputy Foreign Minister was quoted as saying.
The US has “seriously impaired and damaged” efforts and progress on both sides to stabilize relations since the meeting between China’s head of state and party leader Xi Jinping and US President Joe Biden in November, Xie Feng said.
The Chinese government will closely monitor further developments and reserves the right to react as necessary. In an indirect nod to the possible civilian owners of the balloon, the statement said the government wanted to “uphold the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese companies.”
The United States shot down the balloon, which had been flying over the United States for days, with a rocket on Sunday off the Atlantic coast of South Carolina. China has been accused of using the balloon to spy on important military facilities. The government in Beijing, on the other hand, spoke of a research balloon that was far off course due to the westerly wind drift and insufficient control options.