Beijing calls US claims over ‘spy’ balloons ‘information warfare’
Beijing has dismissed American accusations that a downed Chinese balloon was part of an extensive surveillance program, saying the comments ammounted to “information warfare against China.”
This week the Pentagon said the Chinese balloon shot down off the South Carolina coast Saturday was part of a program involving a number of such airships that China has been operating for “several years.”
At Thursday’s daily briefing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning repeated China’s insistence that the large unmanned balloon was a civilian meteorological airship that had accidentally blown off course and that the US had “overreacted” by shooting it down.
“It is irresponsible,” Mao said at a daily briefing. The latest accusations “may be part of the US side’s information warfare against China.”
China’s defense minister refused to take a phone call from Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin to discuss the balloon issue on Saturday, the Pentagon said, and China has not answered questions as to what government department or company the balloon belonged to, or how it planned to follow up on a pledge to take further action over the matter.
US officials have dismissed China’s claims and agents from the FBI and the Naval Criminal Investigative Service are cataloguing debris recovered from the ocean and transporting it for further processing.
When similar balloons passed over American territory on four occasions during the Trump and Biden administrations, the US did not immediately identify them as Chinese surveillance balloons, according to the Pentagon — although they were later idenfified as Beijing assets.