We reprint below an initial statement from China’s Foreign Ministry regarding the US attack on a civilian unmanned airship. The Foreign Ministry expresses its strong disapproval and protest, noting that it had repeatedly informed the US side of the civilian nature of the airship and that its entry into US skies was due to force majeure and totally unexpected. China had asked the US to handle matters in a calm, professional and restrained manner, but what the US had done was a clear overreaction and a serious violation of international practice. China, it concluded, reserves the right to make further responses if necessary.
The statement was originally carried on the website of the Chinese Foreign Ministry.
China strongly disapproves of and protests against the US attack on a civilian unmanned airship by force. The Chinese side has, after verification, repeatedly informed the US side of the civilian nature of the airship and conveyed that its entry into the US due to force majeure was totally unexpected. The Chinese side has clearly asked the US side to properly handle the matter in a calm, professional and restrained manner. The spokesperson of the US Department of Defense also noted that the balloon does not present a military or physical threat to people on the ground. Under such circumstances, the US use of force is a clear overreaction and a serious violation of international practice. China will resolutely safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of the company concerned, and reserves the right to make further responses if necessary.
3 thoughts on “Foreign Ministry statement on US claim of downing a Chinese unmanned airship”
That is, “Su airspace es mi airspace, pero mi airspace no es su airspace.”
Here are the questions about the balloon posed to the spokesperson of the PRC Foreign Ministry and the answers, on February 6, 2023:
CNN: The Pentagon says another surveillance balloon from China has been spotted over Latin America and the US says there were three instances during the Trump administration of China flying surveillance balloons over the US. What’s the purpose of these balloons from China?
Mao Ning: With regard to the balloon over Latin America, it has been verified that the unmanned airship is from China, of civilian nature and used for flight test. Affected by the weather and with limited self-steering capability, the airship deviated far from its planned course and entered into the airspace of Latin America and the Caribbean. China is a responsible country and always acts in strict accordance with international law. We have informed relevant sides. It is being properly handled and will not pose any threat to any country. They have expressed their understanding.
As to the alleged three instances of China flying surveillance balloons over the US during the Trump administration, I noted that Mr. Trump has denied the claim.
CNN: The US is confident though that what they shot down is in fact a spy balloon. Can you help us understand how this could be a weather balloon?
Mao Ning: The Chinese side has provided relevant information to the US side on multiple occasions. The unmanned airship is found to be a civilian airship used for meteorological and other research purposes. Affected by the Westerlies and with limited self-steering capability, the airship deviated far from its planned course. This is entirely an unexpected, isolated incident caused by force majeure.
As a responsible country, China strictly adheres to international law and respects the sovereignty and territorial integrity of other countries. As history shows, it is the US that has repeatedly trampled on international law and violated the sovereignty and territorial integrity of other countries. The Chinese side has made it clear that this is entirely an unexpected, isolated incident caused by force majeure. The US side’s deliberate hyping up of the matter and even use of force are unacceptable and irresponsible.
Sky News: The eyes of the world are now on China as you know following the shooting down of that balloon. Does China recognize how dangerous this moment could be? And with that in mind, should it avoid tit-for-tat escalations, especially if the debris gathered shows that the balloon was spying?
Mao Ning: We have stated several times that this incident was totally unexpected and caused by force majeure. The US Department of Defense already stated that “the balloon does not present a military or physical threat to people on the ground”. China has time and again made that clear to the US, and yet the US side still went ahead with the use of force, which is a clear overreaction. The Chinese side is firmly opposed to that.
I wish to stress that in the face of this kind of unexpected, isolated incidents, both sides, the US in particular, should act in a calm, professional and proper manner without the use of force.
Bloomberg: First, you’ve characterized both balloons as entering the US and Latin America accidentally and being blown off course, so I guess the question is, why is China having so much trouble controlling weather balloons? And is it gonna take steps to sort of remedy that problem?
Mao Ning: I’m not an expert on controlling the balloon, so I’m probably not the right person to answer this question. But to my knowledge, this is not the first time in the world that balloons for scientific research went out of control.
AFP: The foreign ministry said this morning that Vice Foreign Minister Xie Feng has lodged stern representations to the US Embassy over the handling of the Chinese balloon. Could you give more details about this encounter? Did Vice Minister Xie meet personally with the US Ambassador? And China has said it reserves the right to further respond to the balloon being shot down. What responses does China plan to take?
Mao Ning: The Chinese side has put out a press release regarding Vice Foreign Minister Xie Feng’s démarche and you may refer to that. I want to stress that despite our repeated communication with the US, the US side still went ahead with the use of force. This is a clear overreaction. The Chinese side is firmly opposed to that. The US side needs to stop pushing the envelope and stop escalating or exacerbating the situation. The Chinese side will respond as necessary in light of the development of the situation.
New York Times: Is China taking the position that it reserves the right to shoot down unmanned aircraft that fly across its borders without permission or is China taking the position that it is wrong to shoot down unmanned aircraft that fly across borders without permission?
Mao Ning: I want to stress that the US made an overreaction by using force on a strayed unmanned civilian airship. This violates customary international practice.
Reuters: At what point, on which day did the foreign ministry find out about this balloon? Was it before or after the US said it has discovered this balloon?
Mao Ning: China is a responsible country. After the US side informed the Chinese side of the situation, we immediately verified it and communicated it to the US side, and we specifically asked the US side to properly handle the matter in a calm, professional and restrained manner.
I am from Vancouver,Canada and i wanted to say that i have been listening to Canadian News, Sky News, Bloomberg News and New York Times News for decades and i have realized that these news outlets Lie about everything that they talk about.Also they condemn Socialist Gov’ts for everything they do without any evidence what so ever.
So when i read about what the US Gov’t said about the Chinese balloon over the USA i taught that it wouldn’t be like the US Gov’t to tell the truth about this incident.I was right about that.Since when did the US Gov’t tell the truth about China, Vietnam, Cuba, Venezuela, DPRK. and i could extend the list. If someone lies for a long period of time then they won’t be believed if they tell the truth.