China expresses strong opposition to US escalating manipulation of airship incident
Published: Feb 10, 2023 06:40 PM
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning

China expressed strong opposition and dissatisfaction toward a bill passed by the US Congress concerning the airship incident, which is purely a political manipulation by the US, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson said on Friday.

Despite China's repeated communication with the US, urging it not to continue the hype and slander over "the airship incident," the US escalated the information and public opinion warfare against China by passing a bipartisan "condemnation" against China and disclosing new details about the matter, which only exposed the US' double standards and meaningless consumption of diplomatic resources, Chinese experts said.  

When asked about the US' latest findings about the airship that has been shot down by the US military recently, as well as the latest bill adopted by the House, Mao Ning, spokesperson for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, said on Friday that China has elaborated on the situation and China's stance multiple times: it was an accident that a Chinese unmanned airship for civilian use strayed into the airspace of the US due to force majeure.

"The relevant resolution of the US Congress is purely political manipulation and speculation. China is strongly dissatisfied with this and firmly opposes it," Mao told a press conference on Friday.

Biden administration officials disclosed new information on Thursday about the capabilities of the Chinese unmanned airship and what they are learning as the FBI begins analyzing the parts recovered after the balloon was shot down Saturday, CNN reported. 

US officials also detailed what they've discovered about "the broader spying operation" they say the Chinese government has undertaken using a fleet of high-altitude surveillance balloons across the globe, the US media report said. 

Meanwhile, the US House voted unanimously Thursday to "condemn the Chinese government" for so-called balloon surveillance program. The US government said it has been engaging with 40 nations about the nature of the incident. 

However, when asked about which are those countries and does it mean the US is conducting the same so-called surveillance over these countries, Ned Price, spokesperson of the US Department of State, did not come up with a clear response in his latest press briefing on Thursday. 

It shows the typical double standards of the US government in handling the airship incident, which means that the US can conduct surveillance over other countries but cannot tolerate a non-threatening Chinese airship that unintendedly entered US airspace, Li Haidong, a professor at the Institute of International Relations at the China Foreign Affairs University, told the Global Times on Friday. 

"Obviously, when it comes to any incident or topic concerning conflicts with China, the US won't let it go. The US uses it as an excuse of sanctioning Chinese institutions, entities and individuals, accelerating the decoupling with China," Li said. 

However, Chinese officials and experts have been calling on the US side to take a rational attitude and remain "cool-headed." 

Considering the huge common interests between the two sides, it's unnecessary for the US to consume much more diplomatic resources to turn this airship incident into a dominant factor in the overall China-US relations, especially when the hyping of the incident has put the bilateral economic and trade ties at the crossroads, experts said.

Xu Xueyuan, charge d'affaires of the Chinese Embassy in the US, also called for not allowing the incident to offset the efforts made by the two sides in maintaining the stability of China-US ties in a latest public address. 

There have been mixed signals from Washington in recent days, ranging from stepped-up crackdown on China's rising high-tech industry, an alliance approach to push for a West decoupling with China, to US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen's explicit hope to still visit China despite strained bilateral relations.

Observers said that stable and sound China-US economic relations play a key role in preventing disputes between the two countries from further spiraling up, and the ball is in Washington's court to show pragmatism to remove obstacles and address China's key concerns. 

Gao Lingyun, an expert at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in Beijing, told the Global Times that the main problem that Yellen wants to solve by visiting China is the debt issue, not economy and trade.

"Some recent moves by China on US Treasury bonds based on market principles could have some impact on the US bond market, especially when the US has hit debt limit [last month]," said Gao.

Gao predicted that the US will continue to hype up the airship incident for some time. It's like the US picked up a gun to use it against China. It may also serve as a bargaining chip to ramp up pressure on China.