A top Chinese diplomat has called on the US to return the wreckage of a spy balloon it shot down over the weekend, saying failure to return the parts would be more evidence that the US is “dishonest” in the conflict. have been.
China’s ambassador to France, Lu Xie, said that if someone picks up something on the street and knows who owns it, they should return it to the owner. Monday’s interview with the French channel LCI.
Lu accused the US government of “exaggerating” the issue, and repeated the Chinese official’s claim that the device was part of civilian climate research, not espionage.
The balloon first made headlines last week, when Pentagon officials confirmed that the mysterious white device had been spotted over vulnerable western states. The device was shot down by U.S. fighter jets off the coast of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina on February 4, and parts of it were later recovered by Navy personnel.
According to Lu, the US government’s flat refusal to return the balloon debris to the Chinese is evidence that the country is “dishonest” in its tense relations with China.
“[These balloons] are very common,” he alleged, adding that “it is not uncommon to see American spy balloons, or balloons used for other purposes.”
When U.S. spy balloons entered Chinese airspace, Lu claimed, local authorities “played it low-key, without any fuss.” He did not say whether these devices were also fired.
Lu’s statement echoed that of Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Mao Ning, who said on Tuesday that the balloon “does not belong to the United States, it belongs to China.” FOX reported..
Mao’s latest remarks also came just a day after he publicly confirmed China’s ownership of a second spy balloon found in Latin America.
Mao said that, like the American spy balloon, the Latin American counterpart was a weather probe that “seriously strayed from its planned course.”
The ongoing dispute over Chinese spy balloons comes at a particularly difficult time for US-China relations. In light of the fallout from the incident, US Secretary of State Anthony Blanken indefinitely postponed his planned visit to China earlier this week.
“…I think, frankly, in this current environment, I think. [the balloon] “We would have significantly narrowed the agenda that we would have been able to focus on,” one official told reporters of the decision.
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