Το υπουργείο Εξωτερικών της Κίνας καταδίκασε σήμερα την απόφαση της αμερικανικής κυβέρνησης να καταρρίψει το κινεζικό μπαλόνι που εισήλθε τις προηγούμενες ημέρες στον εναέριο χώρο των Ηνωμένων Πολιτειών, επαναλαμβάνοντας ότι δεν εξυπηρετούσε στρατιωτικούς σκοπούς. Παράλληλα, κατηγόρησε την Ουάσινγκτον για «υπερβολική αντίδραση και σοβαρή παραβίαση των διεθνών πρακτικών».
"China expresses its strong dissatisfaction and protest against the use of force by the United States," the statement issued by the Chinese Foreign Ministry said, adding that it "reserves the right" to respond.
According to a senior US Pentagon official, the balloon was shot down about six nautical miles from the US coast. It was hit by an AIM-9X missile fired from an F-22 fighter jet and there was no collateral damage or danger to civilians, he added.
The Chinese balloon entered their airspace USA on January 28, crossed into Canadian airspace on the 30th of the month and re-entered American airspace the next day. The US military will seek to retrieve the balloon's payload. According to an official, the debris is scattered in a radius of 11 kilometers.
In a statement, the American Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin emphasizes that this particular balloon was used by China in an attempt to monitor strategic US facilities.
Instead, Beijing claims that the balloon served "research purposes, mainly meteorological" and that it in no way constituted a military threat to the US. He had described his entry into US airspace as an "accident", attributing it to reasons of "force majeure". At the same time, he accused politicians and the media in the United States of taking advantage of the incident to smear China.
Source: ERT, AFP, Xinhua, Reuters