[Watch] US Shoots Down Spy Balloon; Angry China Warns Of ‘Necessary Response’
Beijing: After tracking and observing for several days, the US shot down an alleged Chinese spy balloon off the Atlantic coast on Saturday.
The balloon was targeted off the coast of the south-eastern state of South Carolina with a missile fired from an F-22 plane, Pentagon officials said.
The balloon fell into relatively shallow water, 47 feet deep.
A number of videos posted by eyewitness on social media shows the balloon disintegrating in a white puff before its remnants dropped into the Atlantic Ocean.
Incredible HD footage of the Chinese surveillance balloon being shot down. pic.twitter.com/K1GxdcJuH1
— Graham Allen (@GrahamAllen_1) February 4, 2023
Even as President Joe Biden lauded the fighter pilots involved in the operation, China expressed “strong dissatisfaction” and said it may make “necessary responses.”
Blasting the US, China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement on Sunday that downing a “civilian” aircraft was “clearly overreacting and seriously violating international practice.”
“China will resolutely safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of relevant enterprises and reserve the right to make further necessary responses,” the statement added.
According to Pentagon officials, the balloon first entered US airspace over Alaska on January 28, before drifting to Canada and then drifting back into the US days later.
Under pressure, China admitted ownership of the “airship,” and regretted that the civilian weather balloon had been blown off course.
However, following Saturday’s operation by the US, the Chinese Foreign Affairs ministry protested against the use of force by the United States to attack the unmanned civilian airship.
China stated that instead of responding in a restrained manner, “the United States insisted on using force, clearly overreacting.”
Defending their decision, US Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin said it was a “deliberate and lawful action” in response to China’s “unacceptable violation of our sovereignty.”
A senior Defence official said Saturday afternoon presented the US military the first chance to take down the balloon in a way that would not “pose a threat to the safety of Americans.”
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