China urges US to handle balloon accident in calm, professional and restrained manner
Published: Feb 06, 2023 05:25 PM
Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Mao Ning Photo: Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Mao Ning Photo: Ministry of Foreign Affairs


China urged the US to handle the balloon accident in a calm, professional and restrained manner, but the US insistence on using armed force in disregard of China's position and demands is obviously an overreaction, the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson said on Monday. 

In response to media reports that a second Chinese balloon was reportedly flying over Latin America, Mao Ning, the spokesperson of the Chinese Foreign Ministry, said it has been verified that the relevant unmanned airship comes from China and it is of a civilian nature and is used for flight tests. 

Affected by the weather and with limited self-control capabilities, the airship seriously deviated from its planned route and strayed into the skies over Latin America and the Caribbean, Mao said. 

China is a responsible country and has always strictly abided by international law to notify relevant parties and handle the accident properly. It will not pose any threat to any country, and all parties understand this, the spokesperson said. 

China expressed strong dissatisfaction and protest on Sunday against the US' move to shoot down a non-threatening Chinese airship for civilian use, calling it an overreaction and reserving the right to take necessary actions. 

Representing the Chinese government, China's Vice Foreign Minister Xie Feng, also lodged a solemn representation on Sunday to the US Embassy in China over the US attack on the civilian unmanned airship.

China briefed the US about the situation many times, saying the unmanned airship was used for scientific research purposes such as meteorology. Affected by the Westerlies and with limited self-steering capability, the airship deviated far from its planned course, Mao said. "This is a completely unexpected situation caused by force majeure," she said. 

"We have made it clear that this was entirely an accident caused by force majeure, and the US deliberately exaggerated it. The armed attacks are unacceptable and irresponsible," the spokesperson said. 

When asked about whether China and the US kept communication channels open over the balloon accident, Mao said that China has been continually communicating with the US, and clearly asked it to handle the matter in a clear, professional and restrained matter. 

In terms of how to control such high-attitude balloons, Mao said it is not the first time that balloons used for scientific research have gone off their intended paths.

The spokesperson also emphasized that it was a complete accident caused by force majeure, and the Pentagon had made it clear that this balloon would not pose a military or personal threat. 

"In disregard of China's repeated explanations, the US insistence on using force is obviously an overreaction, and China firmly opposes it," Mao said. 

On whether the balloon accident will further affect already tense US-China relations, the spokesperson said this also tests the sincerity of the US in stabilizing and improving China-US relations and the way it handles crises. 

"The US should meet China halfway, properly manage differences, and avoid misunderstandings and misjudgments that undermine mutual trust," she said.