New York Daily News
China tells U.S.: YOUR balloons invaded OUR airspace 10 times
China inflated tensions Monday by claiming U.S. balloons have traveled into Chinese airspace more than 10 times since last year — an allegation the U.S. denies.
The claim comes a little over a week after a U.S. fighter jet shot down a large balloon, suspected to be a Chinese surveillance device, near the coast of South Carolina on Feb. 4.
“It is also common for U.S. balloons to illegally enter the airspace of other countries,” Wang Wenbin, China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman, said Monday. He said the U.S. should “first reflect on itself and change course, rather than smear and instigate a confrontation.”
China says its balloon was being used for “meteorological research,” not surveillance, and had blown off course when it was spotted.
The U.S. rejected the accusation it sent spy balloons over China.
“It is China that has a high-altitude surveillance balloon program for intelligence collection, connected to the People’s Liberation Army, that it has used to violate the sovereignty of the United States and over 40 countries across five continents,” said Adrienne Watson, spokeswoman for the National Security Council.
“This is the latest example of China scrambling to do damage control. It has repeatedly and wrongly claimed the surveillance balloon it sent over the United States was a weather balloon and to this day has failed to offer any credible explanations for its intrusion into our airspace and the airspace of others.”
Three additional incidents involving unidentified objects occurred in North America after the Chinese balloon went down.
On Friday, a U.S. fighter jet shot down an object spotted about 40,000 feet above Alaska. On Saturday, a U.S. jet downed a jet above Canada’s Yukon following orders from President Biden and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
U.S. Air Force and National Guard pilots shot down a third object over Lake Huron on Sunday. Authorities are investigating the origin of those objects.
“These were decisions based purely and simply on what was in the best interests of the American people,” White House national security spokesman John Kirby said Monday.
The White House doesn’t know if the objects shot down between Friday and Sunday belonged to China or whether they were being used for surveillance, but they could have been dangerous to air travelers given their low altitudes, Kirby said.