China condemned the U.S. military’s decision on Saturday to shoot down a suspected Chinese surveillance balloon that flew over the U.S. last week.
“China strongly disapproves of and protests against the U.S. attack on a civilian unmanned airship by force,” the Chinese Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Sunday morning, per the South China Morning Post.
A “high-altitude surveillance balloon” first entered U.S. airspace in Alaska on Jan. 28.
Beijing confirmed on Friday that the balloon was Chinese, but claimed that it was primarily used for meteorological research and had been blown off course.
“The Chinese side regrets the unintended entry of the airship into US airspace due to force majeure,” a ministry spokesperson said.
However, American officials have maintained that the balloon was surveilling “strategic sites” within the U.S., leading Secretary of State Antony Blinken to postpone his trip to Beijing on Friday.
The U.S. military waited to shoot down the balloon until Saturday afternoon, when it was over water off the coast of South Carolina, due to safety concerns. »