(RightWing.org) – Controversy continues to rage surrounding a stray Chinese balloon shot down by a US fighter jet off the South Carolina coast on February 4. Military and defense officials have characterized the high-altitude vessel as a “surveillance balloon, launched and owned by the People’s Republic of China” (PRC). Inversely, Chinese officials claim it was a civilian research balloon that had strayed off course due to high winds while studying weather patterns. The PRC recently upped the ante in the war of words with the US, accusing officials of waging a PR.
On Thursday, February 9, reporters asked Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning during her daily press briefing if she had any additional information to share about the balloon the US and Japanese claim was part of a “fleet” of spy vessels. She said Chinese officials had told the US “time and again” the “civilian airship” wandered into US airspace due to circumstances beyond its control.
Continuing, Ning accused American officials of engaging in “information and public opinion warfare” against China. Likewise, she claimed the US led the world in “spying, eavesdropping, and surveillance,” a fact well-known by the international community.
China hits back at US for what it calls 'information warfare' over spy balloon https://t.co/HdzODDr0Nt
— Daily Mail Online (@MailOnline) February 9, 2023
New reports indicated this wasn’t an end to attempted Chinese flyovers. Pentagon Press Sec. Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder held press conferences on Friday and Saturday, announcing that fighter jets assigned to NORAD shot down high-altitude airborne objects of unknown origins on both days.
On Friday, February 10, fighter aircraft took down an object flying over sovereign US territorial waters off the northern coast of Alaska at around 1:45 p.m. Eastern Standard Time. NORAD detected the aircraft the previous day and determined it presented a “reasonable threat” to the ongoing safety of civilian flights.
Then, on Saturday, a formation of US and Canadian fighter aircraft intercepted an additional high-altitude airborne object flying over Northern Canada. A US F-22 Raptor launched a sidewinder missile to shoot it down.
On Sunday, a fourth object was downed over Lake Huron in Michigan. In this case, an F-16 fired an AIM9x missile at the object at an altitude of only 20,000 feet.
Recovery efforts for the debris from the weather balloon and the three unidentified airborne objects are ongoing. The FBI is coordinating the exchange of information regarding the third object with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
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