Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin claimed on Monday that American high-altitude balloons have flown through Chinese airspace more than ten times since the beginning of 2022.
Wang contrasted China’s supposedly “reasonable and professional” response to these incursions with the United States shooting down the Chinese spy balloon that flew over North America two weeks ago and the destruction of several other unidentified flying objects over the weekend. Wang claimed to know nothing about the other UFOs.
“We have made it clear time and again that the entry of the Chinese civilian unmanned airship into U.S. airspace was a purely unintended, unexpected and isolated event caused by force majeure,” Wang claimed.
“As to the ‘unidentified objects’ you asked about, I do not have anything on that,” he told a reporter.
“We do need to point out, however, that the U.S. downing of the unmanned airship with advanced missiles is a trigger-happy overreaction. Many in the U.S. have been asking: what good can such costly action possibly bring to the U.S. and its taxpayers?” he added.
“As a matter of fact, it is the U.S. who is the No.1 surveillance country and has the largest spy network in the world,” Wang added gratuitously.
This seems grossly unfair to China, which has worked very hard to build a dystopian surveillance state with millions of cameras that constantly monitor everything said and done by its subjects, and can even track the movements of ethnic minorities that the oppressively racist Chinese Communist Party finds troublesome. Wang overlooked all that to harangue the U.S. about the National Security Agency’s cyber-intelligence programs, which have been a favorite topic of Chinese propagandists since they were exposed a decade ago.
Pressed on if China had anything to do with the other mysterious objects intercepted over Canada and the northern United States in recent days, Wang huffed: “As I just said, I do not have anything on that. We believe that no irresponsible comments should be made when there is no clear evidence. And we are absolutely opposed to made-up stories and smears against China.”
Wang grew very testy when reporters called him out on China’s claim that the spy balloon shot down on February 5 was operated by a private corporation that has no links to Chinese military intelligence. Invited to name the supposedly private entity that operated the balloon, Wang instead complained about the NSA again, and then claimed the U.S. is constantly sending its own spy balloons and surveillance aircraft on provocative flights into foreign airspace:
U.S. military vessels and aircraft conduct frequent close-in reconnaissance on China, including 657 sorties last year and 64 sorties in January this year in the South China Sea alone, which seriously undermines China’s national security and regional peace and stability.
U.S. balloons have often entered other countries’ airspace illegally. Since last year, U.S. high-altitude balloons have flown over Chinese airspace over ten times without authorization from China. The U.S. needs to reflect on its own behavior and change course rather than attacking others and stoking confrontation.
Wang was here building off China’s illegal claims to control the entire South China Sea region. These claims have been decisively rejected by international courts, but Beijing routinely ignores court rulings it does not like and treats every other claimant to South China Sea territory as a “trespasser.”
China constantly complains about U.S. Freedom of Navigation Operations (FONOPs) in the South China Sea, which are intended to demonstrate that China cannot restrict the passage of other nations’ ships and aircraft through international waters.
On Sunday, Chinese officials told state-controlled media that an unidentified flying object was detected “in waters near the coastal city of Rizhao,” and the Chinese military was “preparing to shoot it down,” so fishermen were advised to clear the area. Rizhao is located due west of South Korea across the Yellow Sea.
“If debris falls near your boat, please help take photos to collect evidence. If conditions allow, please help salvage it,” said a text message supposedly sent to fishermen by Chinese officials.
As of Monday morning, there was no indication that China actually shot anything down.
The White House on Monday dismissed Wang’s claim of ten American spy balloons as a desperate fabrication.
“Any claim that the U.S. government operates surveillance balloons over the PRC [People’s Republic of China] is false. This is the latest example of China scrambling to do damage control,” said National Security Council (NSC) spokeswoman Adrienne Watson.
Watson said China “has repeatedly and wrongly claimed the surveillance balloon it sent over the United States was a weather balloon, and to this day has failed to offer any credible explanations for its intrusion into our airspace, and the airspace of others.”