BEIJING (Dispatches) - China said on Wednesday that U.S. high altitude balloons flew over its Xinjiang and Tibet regions, and that it will take measures against U.S. entities that undermine Chinese sovereignty as a diplomatic dispute festered.
Washington and Beijing are locked in a tussle over flying objects after the U.S. military this month shot down what it called a Chinese spy balloon over the coast of South Carolina. Beijing says its balloon was a civilian research vessel mistakenly blown off course, and that Washington overreacted.
This week, China countered that U.S. balloons had flown over its airspace without permission more than 10 times on round-the-world flights since May 2022.
“Without the approval of relevant Chinese authorities, it has illegally flown at least 10 times over China’s territorial airspace, including over Xinjiang, Tibet and other provinces,” Wang told a regular daily briefing on Wednesday.
“The U.S. has abused force, overreacted, escalated the situation, and used this as a pretext to illegally sanction Chinese companies and institutions,” Wang said.
“China is firmly opposed to this and will take countermeasures against relevant U.S. entities that undermine China’s sovereignty and security in accordance with the law,” Wang said, without specifying the measures.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who postponed a planned trip to Beijing over the balloon, is considering meeting China’s top diplomat Wang Yi in Munich this week, sources have said.
Former U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has strongly criticized President Joe Biden for his delay in handling a suspected Chinese spy balloon that intruded into U.S. airspace.
Pompeo criticized Biden during an exclusive interview with The Hill on Monday, saying the current administration had “made an enormous mistake” that had caused “global shame.”
But he added, “The whole world saw a slow-moving balloon transiting Montana, Kansas, South Carolina — and the United States of America did nothing.”
A U.S. military fighter jet brought down the “spy” balloon off the coast of South Carolina last Saturday, after it traversed the United States for several days. The U.S. military had earlier said it had mobilized fighter jets but advised Biden against shooting the balloon out of the sky for fear debris could pose a safety threat to people on the ground.
Pompeo said the delay delivered “an enormous geopolitical advantage” for China.