Chinese officials on Sunday continued their criticism of the U.S., accusing government officials of overreacting when it deployed Air Force fighter jets to shoot down a suspected surveillance balloon off the coast of South Carolina.
In a statement, China’s Foreign Ministry repeated claims that the balloon was a civilian vessel that had strayed off course, The Washington Post reported.
“The Chinese side has clearly asked the U.S. side to properly handle the matter in a calm, professional and restrained manner,” the statement read.
China accused the U.S. of an “overreaction” when it used a fighter jet to shoot down a suspected surveillance balloon, as nationalist Chinese commentators blamed runaway political pressure in Washington for escalating the incident.https://t.co/aFrGF2LM2I— The Washington Post (@washingtonpost) February 5, 2023
President Joe Biden said he gave the order to shoot down the Chinese balloon on Wednesday once it was over the water. It was taken down on Saturday afternoon off the coast near Myrtle Beach.
Under such circumstances, the U.S. insists on using force, obviously overreacting and seriously violating international practice,” China’s Foreign Ministry added.
Chinese media announced on Saturday that the chief of China’s weather service was fired, CNN reported. Taiwan. meanwhile, said in a statement that the incident “should not be tolerated by the international community.”
Earlier Sunday, China said in a statement that the country would “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 balloon’s meandering journey across the U.S. caused a last-minute delay of Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s trip to Beijing, the Post reported. Officials in China said that it had never officially announced plans for Blinken’s visit.
Posters on Chinese media originally reacted by calling the vessel “a wandering balloon,” a play on the country’s science-fiction blockbuster film, “The Wandering Earth,” the Post reported. By Sunday, there was a more strident tone.
According to the newspaper, Chinese commentator Hu Xijin blamed American “politicization” and “hype,” saying that competition to look tough on China meant that the U.S. “has already lost its objectivity.”
The incident puts China’s leader, Xi Jinping, in a delicate situation, one expert told The New York Times.
“China is in a very tight geopolitical spot,” Evan S. Medeiros, a professor of international politics at Georgetown University, told the newspaper. “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.”
Xi, who began a third five-year term as party leader in October, has attempted to ease tensions with Western nations, hoping to prevent a stronger alliance by the U.S., Australia, and European countries that would contain his country’s power and influence, the Times reported.
“It would be a very poor strategic move on the part of China to really make a big deal out of this,” Oriana Skylar Mastro, a fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies at Stanford University, told the newspaper. “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.”
©2023 Cox Media Group