Home / News / World /  China warns of 'necessary' actions after US downs 'spy' balloon: Here's everything to know

China on Sunday said that the US of clearly overreacting and seriously violating international practice. This comes at a time when the United States military fighter jet on Sunday shot down the suspected Chinese ‘spy balloon’ off the coast of South Carolina.

China expresses strong dissatisfaction and protests against the use of force by the United States to attack the unmanned civilian airship," said China in an official statement.

“China will resolutely safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of relevant enterprises and reserve the right to make further necessary responses," the statement added.

Multiple fighter and refueling aircraft were involved in the mission, but only one -- an F-22 fighter jet from Langley Air Force Base in Virginia -- took the shot at 2:39 pm (around 12 am IST), using a single AIM-9X supersonic, heat-seeking, air-to-air missile, according to report by AFP.

1) On 3 February, US said a a Chinese spy balloon flying high over the United States that appeared to be surveilling highly sensitive nuclear weapons sites.

US said it was spotted earlier the week and most recently seen floating more than 40,000 feet (12,000 meters) over Montana. The location is sensitive, since the state is home to the Air Force’s 341st Missile Wing and its Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missiles. While China hasn’t yet commented on the incident, a Defense Department spokesman said the US had high confidence it belonged to the country, without explaining why.

2) Details on the exact capabilities of this particular balloon are unclear, with a US official who briefed reporters Thursday declining to answer several questions about its size or specifications. American officials have asserted that the balloon has a limited ability to collect meaningful intelligence data, beyond what the Chinese can already gather through their satellite network.

3) President Joe Biden said on Saturday that the United States is "going to take care of" a suspected Chinese spy balloon that has been tracked flying across the United States.

This response was triggered by a question about whether the United States would shoot down the high-altitude surveillance balloon, which has been flying across the country in what Washington calls a "clear violation" of U.S. sovereignty.

4) As a consequence of the spy balloon, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken postponed a visit to China that had been expected to start on Friday because of the balloon.

The postponing of Blinken's trip, which had been agreed to in November by Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping, is a blow to those who saw it as an overdue opportunity to stabilize an increasingly fractious relationship. The last visit by a U.S. secretary of state was in 2017.

What is a ‘spy balloon’?

Cheap, quiet and hard to reach — balloons have long been used for reconnaissance purposes, including in conflicts like the American Civil War. The practice became widespread during World War I and was used extensively during the Cold War, when the US launched hundreds of balloons to gather intelligence on the Soviet Union and China.


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