The Chinese government has requested the return of its now-shredded surveillance balloon from the United States, after the U.S. military shot down the aircraft over the Atlantic Ocean on Saturday.
When discussing the incident Tuesday, Mao Ning, the spokesperson for China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs office, said, "the airship does not belong to the U.S. It belongs to China."
Mao then added: "The Chinese side has given information about the unmanned airship on several occasions. I don't have anything to add at the moment."
In her press remarks, Mao also repeated the Chinese Communist Party's claims that the surveillance balloon — which passed through Alaska, western Canada, and a large swath of the continental U.S. — was a civilian aircraft.
Mao also criticized the U.S. government for not handing the balloon ordeal in a rational or "calm" way.
"The unmanned Chinese airship is of civilian nature. Its unintended entry into U.S. airspace is entirely unexpected and caused by force majeure," said Mao.
She continued: "It didn't pose any threat to any person or to the national security of the U.S. The U.S. should have properly handled such incidents in a calm and professional manner not involving the use of force, yet they decided to do otherwise, which is a clear overreaction."
As a counter, the Pentagon maintains it "acted immediately to protect against the collection of sensitive information" from a foreign adversary.
On Monday, China's foreign affairs office acknowledged that another surveillance balloon had been identified over the Caribbean and Latin America, after being thrown off course by the weather — the same rationale China cited last week when attempting to justify the existence of the first balloon over American and Canadian airspace.
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