China said on Monday that the United States had flown high altitude balloons over its airspace without permission amid state media reports that Chinese authorities were ‘preparing’ to down an unidentified flying object near a northern port city.
Responding to a question at a regular media briefing in Beijing, Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said the US had flown high altitude balloons more than 10 times since the beginning of January 2022. He did not provide further details.
Asked how China had responded to the flights, Wang said China’s response to such incidents is responsible and professional.
China’s assertion comes after the United States earlier this month shot down what it says was a Chinese spy balloon off the coast of South Carolina. Beijing says the balloon was a civilian research craft and accused Washington of overreacting.
The US military has subsequently shot down three other flying objects over North America. A White House spokesperson said two of those objects “did not closely resemble” the Chinese spy balloon.
Chinese authorities ‘preparing to down flying object’
On Sunday, a Chinese state-affiliated newspaper claimed authorities were preparing to shoot down “an unidentified flying object” over a port city in its Shandong province.
“Local maritime authorities in East China’s Shandong Province announced on Sunday that they had spotted an unidentified flying object in waters near the coastal city of Rizhao in the province and were preparing to shoot it down,” China’s Global Times wrote in a tweet.
Local maritime authorities in East China’s Shandong Province announced on Sunday that they had spotted an unidentified flying object in waters near the coastal city of Rizhao in the province and were preparing to shoot it down, reminding fishermen to be safe via messages. pic.twitter.com/aQbUntwy4m
— Global Times (@globaltimesnews) February 12, 2023
Rizhao is a major Chinese port along the coast of the Yellow Sea.
According to an SCMP report, the reported sighting coincides with “military exercises” by China’s People’s Liberation Army in the Bohai Sea — an extension of the Yellow Sea.
The Yellow Sea is also home to China’s Jianggezhuang Naval Base, which lies within 200 kilometres of Rizhao.
- Reuters, with inputs from Vishakha Saxena