On February 5, 2023, a US fighter jet destroyed a Chinese weather airship suspected to be a spy balloon that had drifted off course.
China has said it will take action against US entities relating to the downing of what it claimed was an unmanned weather airship off the American East Coast. Beijing accuses the US of overreacting in shooting down the balloon with a missile fired from an F-22 fighter jet.
The US, which says it was a suspected Chinese spy balloon that flew near military sites, has sanctioned six Chinese entities it claims are linked to Beijing’s aerospace programs.
The incident has raised fears of a possible escalation in spying and other challenges from rival China. The US House of Representatives voted unanimously to condemn the Chinese intrusion, and Secretary of State Antony Blinken canceled a visit to Beijing that many hoped would stabilize ties that have been affected by disputes over trade, human rights, Taiwan, and China’s claim to the South China Sea.
China has accused the US of overreacting in bringing down the unmanned balloon and has threatened to take measures against US entities.
The US has sanctioned six Chinese entities linked to Beijing’s aerospace programs, and the House of Representatives voted to condemn China for violating US sovereignty and making false claims about its intelligence collection campaigns.
The Chinese government denies that the balloon was a military asset but has yet to disclose which government department or company was responsible.
The US Ambassador to Japan has accused China of aggressive behavior and cited examples like China’s opening of illegal police stations in the US and other countries.
Japan’s Defense Ministry has protested and requested explanations from Beijing after at least three flying objects believed to be Chinese spy balloons were spotted in Japanese airspace in 2019.
Japan’s governing party is considering expanding the Self-Defense Force law to include violations of Japanese airspace by foreign balloons.
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