Recriminations filled the diplomatic skies on the day after the United States destroyed a Chinese balloon.
“China strongly disapproves of and protests against the US attack on a civilian unmanned airship by force,” the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement issued Sunday, according to the South China Morning Post.
The statement said the shoot-down broke all the rules. The U.S. has labeled the aircraft a spy balloon and China has tried to claim was an errant civilian balloon.
The U.S. military shot down the balloon at about 2:40 p.m. Saturday off the coast of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. It had transited the country over the course of a week at an altitude of about 60,000 feet.
“For the United States to insist on using armed force is clearly an excessive reaction that seriously violates international convention,” the statement said, according to The New York Times.
An unspecified threat followed.
“China will resolutely defend the legitimate rights and interests of the enterprise involved, and retains the right to respond further,” the statement said.
The statement deplored American reaction to being spied upon.
“The Chinese side has clearly asked the U.S. side to properly handle the matter in a calm, professional and restrained manner,” it said, according to Fox News.
The statement also sought to turn soothing words issued from the Pentagon to a hopping-mad American public against the Biden administration.
“The spokesperson of the U.S. Department of Defense also noted that the balloon does not present a military or physical threat to people on the ground,” the statement said, according to Fox.
China insisted it never intentionally violated a foreign nation’s airspace, which goes against U.S. statements that the balloon had some degree of mobility.
The Times noted that Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said the balloon “was being used by the PRC in an attempt to surveil strategic sites in the continental United States.”
Now that this embarrassing episode is over, we need answers from the Biden Administration on the decision-making process. Communist China was allowed to violate American sovereignty unimpeded for days. We must be better prepared for future provocations and incursions by the CCP. https://t.co/ao8gy8LAp3
— Senator Thom Tillis (@SenThomTillis) February 4, 2023
China’s rhetoric is not likely to be a prelude to action, some experts said, according to The New York Times.
“China is in a very tight geopolitical spot. They were caught red handed with no place to go. And during a moment when they want to improve relations with many big powers, principally the U.S.,” Evan S. Medeiros, a professor of international politics at Georgetown University who served in the Obama White House, told the Times.
Another told the Times that China’s best move would be to let the whole situation blow over.
“It would be a very poor strategic move on the part of China to really make a big deal out of this. The more they huff and puff, the more it reduces the credibility of their story that this was a civilian weather balloon blown off course,” Oriana Skylar Mastro, a fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies at Stanford University, told the newspaper.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.