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China threatens to punish the US for shooting down its spy balloon that floated past sensitive military sites before a jet shot it out of the sky

Business Insider logo Business Insider 2/15/2023 (Natalie Musumeci)
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin. GREG BAKER/AFP via Getty Images © GREG BAKER/AFP via Getty Images Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin. GREG BAKER/AFP via Getty Images
  • China threatened to punish the US on Wednesday for shooting down its massive balloon. 
  • A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson said Beijing "will take countermeasures" against the US.
  • Beijing has repeatedly insisted that the US "overreacted" by shooting down the balloon.

China on Wednesday threatened to punish the United States by taking "countermeasures" against it for the shooting down of its massive balloon that the Pentagon says was being used to try to surveil sensitive military sites. 

Beijing has repeatedly insisted that the US "overreacted" by downing the high-altitude balloon over the Atlantic Ocean with a single air-to-air missile fired from an F-22 Raptor earlier this month.

"China is strongly opposed to this and will take countermeasures in accordance with law against relevant US entities that have undermined China's sovereignty and security to firmly safeguard China's sovereignty and legitimate rights and interests," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said during a press briefing. 

Wenbin did not specify the "countermeasures" that Beijing would take and accused the US of using the balloon incident "as an excuse to impose illegal sanctions over Chinese companies and institutions."

In the aftermath of the February 4 downing of the balloon, the Biden administration said that the Chinese military has targeted more than 40 countries across five continents with balloons like the one the US shot down. 

Additionally, the US sanctioned six Chinese entities "for supporting" Beijing's "military modernization efforts, specifically those related to aerospace programs, including airships and balloons."

Although Beijing has admitted that the downed balloon belonged to China, it has insisted it was a weather balloon that blew off course.

"We are firmly opposed to what the US has done and urge the US not to take further actions that could undermine China's interests or escalate tensions," Wenbin said on Wednesday. 

The Chinese government spokesperson also demanded that the US "stop smearing and attacking China and stop misleading the US public and the international community."

"China reserves the right to further respond if necessary," Wenbin told reporters. 

A China expert previously told Insider that the balloon that floated above America and sparked a diplomatic crisis was a "clumsy" move by Beijing that "put a missile" through an already strained relationship with the US.

The incident symbolized "for everyone in the world, particularly in America, that we are in an increasingly hostile relationship," said Orville Schell, the director of the Center on US-China Relations at Asia Society in New York.


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