Beijing: China expressed strong dissatisfaction and opposition towards the US use of force to attack China’s civilian unmanned airship, Chinese Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
The Chinese side has, after verification, repeatedly informed the US side of the civilian nature of the airship and conveyed that its entry into the US due to force majeure was totally unexpected, the statement said, noting the Chinese side has clearly asked the US side to properly handle the matter in a calm, professional and restrained manner, Xinhua News Agency reported.
A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson said when answering a relevant query that the civilian airship is used for research, mainly meteorological purposes. Affected by the Westerlies and with limited self-steering capability, the airship deviated far from its planned course.
According to the statement, the spokesperson of the US Department of Defense also noted the balloon does not present a military or physical threat to people on the ground.
The US, meanwhile, has begun collecting remnants of the Chinese surveillance balloon that was shot down on Feb 5, sparking a diplomatic row between Washington and Beijing.
White House National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby said the US has no plans to return the debris to Beijing. “I know no such intention or plans to return it.”