China-US balloon conflict gets worse amid unidentified airspace intrusions
China-US balloon conflict gets worse amid unidentified airspace intrusions

As the US and Canada rushed to explain the three additional objects the US military shot down above North American airspace over the weekend, on Monday, Washington and Beijing swapped accusations on purported spy balloons.

China increased the scope of its disagreement with the United States by alleging that more than ten times since the year 2022 began, American high-altitude balloons had crossed its airspace without authorization. Quickly, the White House rejected it. The new claim was made as American and Canadian officials were trying to determine the origin of three more objects that American fighter jets had shot down over North American airspace since February 4, when a Chinese balloon was shot down off the South Carolina coast post drifting across the country.

Washington referred to it as a spy balloon, but China argued that it was actually a weather-monitoring device that had been blown significantly off track. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken postponed his travel to Beijing last week as a result of the incident. Wang Wenbin, a spokesman for the Chinese foreign ministry, stated on Monday that 10 American balloon flights in 2017 were illegal but did not identify the balloons as being used for military or espionage objectives.

A spokeswoman for the White House disputed it and charged China with using surveillance balloons connected to its military to violate the sovereignty of the United States and more than 40 other nations across five continents. Adrienne Watson, a spokeswoman for the White House National Security Council, said in a statement that “this is the recent example of China scrambling to perform damage management.”

“It has wrongly claimed numerous times that the surveillance balloon it flew over the United States was a weather balloon, and it has yet to offer any convincing justifications for why it entered both our territory and the airspace of other countries,” according to the Pentagon, American fighter jets on Sunday shot down an octagonal object over Lake Huron.

An object was fired down over sea ice near Deadhorse, Alaska, on Friday. On Saturday, a third object—a cylindrical one—was shot down over Canada’s Yukon; investigators are still looking for the debris.

According to Air Force General Glen VanHerck, commander of North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), the three most recent objects have not been identified by the US military, nor have they been able to determine what they are, how they maintain their altitude or their origin. He claimed that they don’t resemble balloons. According to officials, the three objects were flying at levels that may have put air traffic at risk. According to the Pentagon spokesman, the equipment that was attacked on Sunday might have had monitoring capabilities.

China claimed to be in the dark regarding each of the three artefacts. The three objects could have “absolutely benign and totally explainable causes,” according to White House spokesman John Kirby, and corporate or academic research institutes may deploy equipment that can travel great distances. He remarked in an interview with MSNBC on Monday morning, “We just don’t know.

According to Canadian Defense Minister Anita Anand in an interview with CNN, the hunt for wreckage in the Canadian region of Yukon went on Monday, two days after the item that was found in Canadian airspace was shot down. She stated that the analysis would involve analysts from both the US Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in Canada.

We will move to find the debris and evaluate it, she said, adding that the search is still ongoing. “We are aware that it was downed over the centre of Yukon. Teams on the ground and in the air are ensuring that we can find and identify that material.” Recovery efforts have been impeded by Lake Huron’s choppy waves, said central Michigan’s US Representative Elissa Slotkin at a news conference on Monday.

She stated, “I have no reason to believe that this is a UFO. A second defence official later declared there was no proof the objects were extraterrestrial, contradicting VanHerck’s earlier statement that he would not rule out aliens or any other explanation.