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The US shoots down the Chinese 'spy' balloon, Beijing reacts strongly

The US shoots down the Chinese 'spy' balloon, Beijing reacts strongly

The US has shot down a Chinese balloon it says spied on key military installations across America. The Department of Defense confirmed that its warplanes shot down the balloon over US territorial waters.

China's Foreign Ministry later expressed a note of protest "against the US use of force to attack civilian drones".

Defense officials told US media that the wreckage fell 14 meters under water, shallower than expected, near Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

In a Pentagon statement, a senior US defense official said that "while we took all necessary steps to protect against the collection of sensitive information by the PRC [China] surveillance balloon, the flight of the surveillance balloon over US territory was of intelligence value to us. We were able to study and control the balloon and its equipment, which has been valuable.

US President Joe Biden had been under pressure to shoot down the balloon since defense officials first announced they were tracking it on Thursday.

After the balloon came down, Biden said, "They brought it down successfully, and I want to compliment our airmen who did it."

In a statement hours later, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said: "The Chinese side has repeatedly informed the US side after verifying that the aircraft is for civilian use and entered the US, it was completely an incident."

The balloon's discovery sparked a diplomatic crisis, with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken immediately canceling this weekend's trip to China over the "irresponsible act". Chinese authorities have denied it was a 'spy' balloon.

Defense officials also revealed on Saturday that the balloon had first entered US airspace on January 28 near the Aleutian Islands, before moving into Canadian airspace three days later and re-entering the US on January 31.

Source: BBC

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