As the U.S. studies Chinese balloon debris, the diplomatic dispute worsens.

By Yew Lun Tian and Steve Holland, edited by News Gate Team

Channel | BBC News

WASHINGTON/BEIJING, Feb. 14 (Reuters) – As the U.S. Navy investigated the remains of a suspected Chinese spy balloon it shot down earlier this month, Beijing accused Washington of flying high-altitude balloons into its and other nations’ airspace, widening the diplomatic breach between the two nations.

Before President Joe Biden gave the order to shoot the Chinese balloon on February 4, it had been flying over the United States and Canada for a week. Beijing disputes that it was a surveillance craft. Since then, the American military has shot down three additional aircraft as it searches the sky for targets that radar was unable to detect.

On Tuesday, the White House stated that it was still looking for wreckage from the most recent unmanned objects and had not found any proof that they were a part of China’s espionage programme. But while efforts to restart bilateral relations are hampered by the dispute over the balloon, they exposed Washington’s increased state of alertness.

According to China, the balloon that was shot down on February 4 was a weather-monitoring aircraft. Beijing has claimed that Washington sent its own balloons into Chinese territory, and on Tuesday it claimed that those balloons had also flown over other nations.

An alleged Chinese high-altitude surveillance balloon was found by sailors with Explosive Ordnance Disposal Group 2 after it was shot down by American forces over the weekend off the coast of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. U.S., February 5, 2023. U.S. Fleet Forces/U.S. Navy photo/Handout/File Photo @Reuters

Since May 2022, U.S. balloons “flew around the world and illegally violated the airspace of China and other relevant countries at least ten times,” according to Wang Wenbin, a spokesperson for the Chinese foreign ministry, without supplying any further information or supporting documentation.

The U.S. military argues it frequently acts in accordance with international law in the East and South China Seas, Taiwan, and other areas where China has asserted disputed territorial claims.

China’s accusations are being contested by the White House. Any notion that the US government deploys surveillance balloons over the PRC is untrue, according to Adrienne Watson, a spokesman for the White House National Security Council.

Beijing criticised Washington on Tuesday for its decision to slap sanctions on six Chinese organisations it claims are connected to the balloon. However, there are some indications that the two nations are still working to stabilise their tumultuous relations.

In addition, Biden has stated that he does not think the event damaged relations between the two countries, despite his repeated pledges to defend American airspace and criticism of China over the balloon.

According to sources, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who postponed a trip to Beijing because to the balloon, is thinking about visiting Wang Yi, China’s senior diplomat, in Munich this week.

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The alleged Chinese spy balloon’s essential electronics, along with significant portions of the craft itself, were found, according to the U.S. military’s announcement on Monday.

However, due to challenging weather circumstances, it has not yet recovered wreckage from the most recent three objects that were shot down.

The three items have not been claimed by any party or person, according to White House spokesman John Kirby, and the American intelligence community thinks they may be “connected to some commercial or benign objective.”

Among the objects are one brought down over Canadian Yukon sea ice, one hauled down over Deadhorse, Alaska, and a third fired down over Lake Huron.

The top U.S. general, Mark Milley, stated that the first of two missiles fired from an F-16 fighter jet at the item above Lake Huron on Sunday missed the object but landed harmlessly in the water, demonstrating the difficulty of bringing down the three objects.

At a news conference in Brussels on Tuesday, Milley said, “We definitely tracked it all the way down.”

Tuesday at the Capitol, top defence and military officials from the United States briefed senators in a confidential manner. Democratic Vice President Joe Biden was pressed by Republican lawmakers to divulge additional specifics about the items.

Republican Senator Marco Rubio stated after the briefing that “ninety-five percent of what was discussed in that room today can be made public without endangering the security of our country.”

Reporting by Yew Lun Tian and Beijing newsroom and Steve Holland and Patricia Zengerle in Washington; Writing by Rami Ayyub, edited by News Gate Team

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