Political tensions between China and the United States widened on Tuesday, with Beijing accusing Washington of flying high-altitude balloons into its and other countries’ airspace, as the US military investigated debris from and a suspected Chinese spy balloon shot down this month.
The Chinese balloon, which Beijing denies is a spy plane, spent a week flying over the United States and Canada before President Joe Biden ordered its expulsion on February 4. The U.S. military has fired three more missiles while scanning the skies for objects not picked up by radar.
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The White House said Tuesday it was still searching for debris from the recent incidents and found no evidence that they were part of a Chinese spying program. But they revealed the impact of Washington’s heightened vigilance as the football crisis delayed efforts to re-establish a two-way tie.
China said the balloon shot down on February 4 was a civilian meteorological aircraft. Beijing has accused Washington of sending its own balloons into China’s airspace and said on Tuesday that the objects had also crossed into other countries.
US balloons “have crossed the globe and illegally entered the airspace of China and other important countries at least 10 times” since May 2022, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said, without elaborating. it is proof. China has many claimants in disputed areas, including Taiwan and parts of the East and South China Seas, while the US military says it is always acting in accordance with international law.
The White House disputed China’s claims. Adrienne Watson, spokeswoman for the White House National Security Council, tweeted on Monday: “Any claim that the US government is operating surveillance balloons in the PRC is false.”
Washington has imposed sanctions on six Chinese companies it says are linked to the balloon, prompting criticism from Beijing on Tuesday. But there are some signs the two countries are still seeking to add stability to a troubled relationship. Biden, who has repeatedly vowed to protect US airspace and criticized China for the balloon, also said he did not believe relations between the two countries had deteriorated over the incident.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who has postponed a planned trip to Beijing by balloon, plans to meet with Chinese Premier Wang Yi’s envoy in Munich this week, sources said. “For business or pleasure”
The US military said on Monday it had recovered critical electronic equipment from an alleged Chinese spy balloon and a large part of the ship itself.
But it has yet to recover debris from the last three landings, with severe weather conditions making recovery operations difficult. White House spokesman John Kirby told reporters on Tuesday that none of the three had been reported and that US intelligence officials believe they may be “related to commercial or malicious purposes”.
Those include one that crashed on the ice near Deadhorse, Alaska, another shot over the Yukon in Canada and a third shot over Lake Huron.
Highlighting the difficulty of shooting down the three objects, US Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley said the first of two shots fired by an F-16 fighter jet at the object over Lake Huron on Sunday missed the thing, but it landed safely on the ship. water. . “We followed it closely,” Milley told reporters in Brussels on Tuesday.
US defense and military officials held a separate meeting for US lawmakers on Capitol Hill on Tuesday. Republican lawmakers have asked Biden, a Democrat, to publicly share more information about those matters.
“Ninety-five percent of what’s being discussed in this House today has the potential to harm the public safety of this country,” Republican Senator Marco Rubio said after the speech.