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19 Feb, 2023 17:40

China warns US of ‘consequences’ if ‘spy balloon’ row escalates

Beijing is ready to respond to Washington’s attempts to “hype up” the situation, the Chinese Foreign Ministry has said
China warns US of ‘consequences’ if ‘spy balloon’ row escalates

The shooting down of a Chinese balloon was nothing but an “abuse of force” by Washington, senior Chinese diplomat, Wang Yi, told US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference on Sunday.

The US will bear the “consequences” if it tries to stir up tensions even further in the wake of the incident, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said in a statement describing the exchange.

America’s own “high-altitude balloons illegally flew over China multiple times,” it said, adding that Washington is “in no position to smear China” since the US itself is “the number one country in terms of surveillance.”

The only thing the US achieved by shooting down the balloon was to damage relations between Washington and Beijing, the ministry said, adding that the US needed to “demonstrate sincerity” and resolve the issue instead of seeking to “dramatize” it even further.

“If the US continues to dramatize, hype up or escalate the situation, it will be met in kind for as long as it takes,” Beijing warned, adding that all of the consequences “will be borne by the US side.”

Wang Yi also criticized Washington for what the Chinese ministry called “fanning the flames” of the Ukrainian conflict and “profiteering from the situation.” A major nation like the US is supposed to work toward a political settlement of such a crisis, the diplomat said, adding that this is what China is committed to.

Earlier this week, China blasted the US for its “overreaction” to the presence of an alleged Chinese spy balloon in American airspace by shooting it down and slapping several Chinese companies with sanctions. Beijing also vowed to take “countermeasures” against US entities in return but did not provide any details about the potential response.

Chinese officials have claimed that the balloon that crossed North America earlier this month was an unmanned civilian airship that was blown off course and inadvertently entered US airspace. A US fighter jet shot it down off the coast of South Carolina. The administration of US President Joe Biden then claimed that the balloon was part of a Chinese spy program supposedly targeting over 40 nations.