China expressed outrage Sunday over the U.S. military shooting down a Chinese spy balloon off the coast of South Carolina a day earlier, but Beijing has yet to comment on the Pentagon’s discovery of another Chinese balloon spotted over Latin America.
“The U.S. has obviously overreacted by insisting [on] the use of forces and seriously violated international practice,” the Chinese Foreign Ministry said, according to a report Sunday by Global Times, a newspaper in Beijing published under the auspices of the Chinese Communist Party.
The Pentagon confirmed the discovery of the second balloon following reports from Costa Rica showing an object in the sky that appeared similar to high-altitude spycraft discovered over the United States.
“We now assess it is another Chinese surveillance balloon,” Pentagon spokesman Air Force Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder said Friday evening in a statement, although he did not provide details on the object’s location.
U.S. officials say the balloons, which hover at an altitude of about 60,000 feet, are part of a fleet the Chinese Communist Party-ruled government in Beijing has been using in recent years to conduct surveillance around the globe, maneuvering the vehicles remotely through small motors and propellers.
The discovery of one over the United States triggered an uptick in U.S.-China tensions that had been soaring in recent months over several issues, from Beijing‘s military muscle-flexing in Asia to its tacit support for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
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President Biden authorized the military to shoot down the Chinese spy vehicle on Saturday after it had traversed eastward across much of the U.S. homeland.
Television cameras captured a small explosion off the east coast of the Carolinas after an F-22 fighter jet reportedly fired a heat-seeking missile at the balloon.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin confirmed in a statement that U.S. fighter aircraft assigned to U.S. Northern Command had “successfully brought down the high altitude surveillance balloon launched by and belonging to the People’s Republic of China over the water off the coast of South Carolina in U.S. airspace.”
By Sunday, the Chinese government was expressing outrage. A Foreign Ministry statement also said Beijing reserves the right to “take further actions.”
China’s Ministry of Defense echoed the statement later Sunday in the day, saying it “reserves the right to take necessary measures to deal with similar situations.”
• This article is based in part on wire service reports.
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