Diplomatic tensions continued to rise on Sunday as officials in Beijing blasted the U.S. for shooting a Chinese spy balloon out of the sky. Tan Kefei, a spokesperson for China’s Defense Ministry, described the move as “a clear overreaction,” saying in a statement Sunday that his country reserved “the right to use necessary means to deal with similar situations.” China’s Foreign Ministry also said in a statement it was “a serious violation of international customary practice.” China described the balloon as a “civilian unmanned airship,” and previously said it was used for research and “meteorological purposes.”
The massive white orb was first spotted over Montana — home to Malmstrom Air Force Base, the site of one of America’s three nuclear missile silo fields. The orb was about the size of three school buses, and from Montana headed southeastward over Kansas and Missouri at around 60,000 to 65,000 feet.
The U.S. Defense Department confirmed on Saturday afternoon that an American F-22 Raptor shot down what they described as the “high-altitude surveillance balloon,” with a single missile off South Carolina. The U.S. military plans to salvage parts of the craft from a debris field that spans about 7 nautical miles. President Joe Biden told reporters after the orb was shot down that he gave the order after he was briefed about it Wednesday, but that the Pentagon “decided that the best time to do that was when it got over water.”
Editorial credit: Salma Bashir Motiwala / Shutterstock.com