Beijing: Beijing confirmed that a balloon spotted over Latin America is Chinese, while the United States worked to recover what it claimed was an unmanned spy craft it shot down at the weekend.
China has expressed fury at Washington’s decision to shoot down a device that it insists was an unmanned weather surveillance aircraft that had veered off course.
That balloon sparked outrage in the United States, which accused China of an “unacceptable violation” of its sovereignty and prompted Secretary of State Antony Blinken to call off a planned trip to Beijing.
Beijing acknowledged yesterday that the latest balloon, spotted by US and Colombian officials flying over Latin America at the weekend, was also Chinese.
Its foreign ministry said the device was of “a civilian nature and used for flight tests”.
“Affected by weather in addition to its limited manoeuvrability, the airship deviated from its course and accidentally entered Latin American and Caribbean airspace,” spokesperson Mao Ning said.
That statement came three days after what the Pentagon characterised as another Chinese spy balloon had been seen across Latin America.
Colombia’s air force reported at the weekend an object with “characteristics similar to those of a balloon” was detected and monitored until it left Colombian airspace.
Investigations were being conducted in coordination with other countries and institutions to establish the object’s origins, it said.
The other balloon had spent several days flying over North America before Washington said on Saturday an F-22 fighter jet had shot it down off the coast of South Carolina.
Pentagon officials had described it as a “high-altitude surveillance balloon” and said Washington had taken steps to block it from collecting sensitive information.
General Glen VanHerck, commander of US forces in North America, said in a statement on Sunday that navy personnel were “conducting recovery operations, with the US Coast Guard assisting in securing the area and maintaining public safety”. — AFP