While speaking to journalists on Monday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning confirmed that the second balloon seen drifting over Latin America is theirs, but stated that the airship “is of a civilian nature and used for flight tests” regarding weather monitoring. Mao added that the balloon “deviated greatly” and that it “accidentally entered Latin American and Caribbean airspace.”
“China is a responsible country, and we’ve always strictly abided by international laws and respected the sovereignty and territorial integrity of other countries. History has proven that it is the US that has often violated international laws, invaded the sovereignty and territorial integrity of other countries.”
“We have stated that this is completely an isolated and accidental incident caused by force majeure, but the US still hyped up the incident on purpose and even used force to launch an attack. This is an unacceptable and irresponsible action,” she said.
While the second balloon drifted over several Latin American countries’ airspace, it was not engaged.
This comes after the United States shot down a Chinese balloon off the coast of South Carolina on Saturday, saying that it was attempting gather intelligence on several sensitive military sites across the country. Like the second balloon, Chinese officials claimed it was also civilian in nature and accidentally entered American airspace. US military officials challenged this, stating that the balloon was capable of maneuvering on its own. In the response the downing, China criticized the US, saying that it “overreacted and seriously violated international practice. China will resolutely protect the legitimate rights and interests of relevant enterprises, while retaining the right to make further necessary reactions.”
The US has yet to salvage the downed balloon, so its payload and suspected mission remains unknown.