China has admitted launching a second observation balloon, which it said “accidentally strayed” over Latin America after being blown off course.
The latest balloon was spotted by US and Colombian officials after a similar alleged spy balloon was shot down on the order of Joe Biden, the American president.
China’s foreign ministry acknowledged on Monday morning that the balloon was Chinese.
“It has come to be understood that the relevant unmanned airship is from China,” said Mao Ning, a spokesman. The device “seriously deviated from its scheduled route and accidentally strayed over Latin America and the Caribbean”.
This is similar to what Beijing said previously of the first balloon discovered, which had hovered in Montana over a major US nuclear missile silo complex.
China has maintained that it was a weather research “airship” that had blown off course due to “force majeure”, denying US allegations that the balloon had served surveillance and espionage functions.
Over the weekend, US fighter jets shot the first balloon down over the Atlantic Ocean, prompting Beijing to mock Washington for “shooting a mosquito with a cannon”.
Chinese state media ridiculed the US for acting in an “impractical” way and wasting its resources.
“The US interception method that featured an advanced stealth fighter jet and fired a missile is too costly,” wrote the Global Times, a Communist Party mouthpiece.
“If more balloons, not necessarily from China, fly across the US, the US Air Force would be exhausted in intercepting them in this way.”
Russia backed China on Monday, with Sergei Ryabkov, the deputy foreign minister, saying he was “confident” Beijing was responding in a responsible manner after the balloon travelled into US airspace.
The Chinese government even dismissed the head of its national weather service in what seems to be an attempt to deflect blame and to give credence to its claim that it was a civilian vessel.
Despite Beijing’s protestations that the balloon had no intelligence or military function, a defence ministry spokesman said that it “sternly protests against this move and reserves rights to take necessary measures in dealing with similar situations”.
Chinese state media took the message one step further, saying the US had set a precedent for Chinese forces to shoot down foreign vessels entering its airspace.
China has long maintained that it can do whatever it wishes in its sovereign territory – by land, air and sea.
But what China defines as within its borders does not always match with international law and regulations – a point of contention that Western policymakers and experts have long worried might spark a greater conflict.
China has become more belligerent in how it interacts with the rest of the world, dubbed “wolf warrior” diplomacy, and does in practice react aggressively when the US sails military ships through waters that Beijing claims as its own.
The post China admits to second balloon over Latin America which also ‘strayed’ off course appeared first on The Telegraph.