China Reacts With "Strong Dissatisfaction" After US Shot Down Spy Balloon
After a US stealth fighter jet shot down the Chinese surveillance balloon off the South Carolina coast on Saturday afternoon, the reaction from Beijing abruptly changed from expressing regret to being defensive and outraged.
China's Foreign Ministry published a statement on Sunday morning, stating its "strong dissatisfaction and protest against the US's use of force to attack civilian unmanned airships."
"China will resolutely uphold the relevant company's legitimate rights and interests, and at the same time reserving the right to take further actions in response," the ministry said.
The ministry continued:
"The Chinese side clearly requested that the US appropriately deal with this in a calm, professional and restrained manner."
"For the United States to insist on using armed force is clearly an excessive reaction."
As early as Wednesday, President Biden wanted to blast the balloon out of the sky, though Pentagon officials persuaded him to wait until the balloon was safely over the Atlantic Ocean.
Beijing has stated the balloon accidentally veered off course and was primarily used for "meteorological purposes." But not according to US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, he accused China of using the balloon to "surveil strategic sites in the continental United States."
The incident forced US Secretary of State Antony Blinken to postpone his weekend trip to Beijing, indicating high-level talks between both countries to calm tensions won't happen for some time.
"This incident tells us we haven't found the floor of the relationship," Drew Thompson, a visiting senior research fellow at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy in Singapore, told Bloomberg.
"The relationship is not heading in a positive direction and could deteriorate further."
Even before this weekend, President Biden was ramping up a tech war against China to ensure their chipmaking capabilities were capped.
Meanwhile, General Mike Minihan, head of the US Air Mobility Command, last week predicted a major conflict between the US and China might occur in "2025" -- as a result of a Chinese invasion of Taiwan.
And Republicans have spent the last several days criticizing the Biden administration's balloon response.
"Would Trump have let China fly a spy balloon over our country?" Rep. Jim Jordan tweeted. "Would Reagan? JFK? Truman? No, no, and no."
Would Trump have let China fly a spy balloon over our country?— Rep. Jim Jordan (@Jim_Jordan) February 3, 2023
No, no, no, and no.
So why’s Biden letting China off the hook?
South Carolina Republican Senator Tim Scott also tweeted, "the balloon should have been shot down before it crossed the continental United States, not after," adding that the incident was a "dereliction of Biden's duty."
The balloon should have been shot down before it crossed the continental United States, not after. We still don’t know what information was collected and where it was sent. This was a dereliction of Biden’s duty, and let’s hope the American people don’t pay a price.— Tim Scott (@SenatorTimScott) February 4, 2023
However, Bussiness Insider pointed out suspected surveillance balloons breached US airspace during the Trump years though US officials never made it public until the last week.