Following the overtaking of a Chinese spy balloon by the United States Military, shot down last week, China has requested the remains of the balloon be returned. The balloon was captured over the coast of South Carolina and pieces of it were fished out of the Atlantic Ocean.
It is believed that the high-altitude balloon that was spotted flying over the continental US may have been used to surveil sensitive military sites, according to defense officials. Chinese officials deny these claims and credit the balloon’s location to windy weather.
When a reporter asked on Tuesday whether China has called on the US to give back the debris of the downed balloon, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning said, “The airship does not belong to the US. It belongs to China.”
“If you pick up something on the street, you should return it to the owner, if you know who the owner is. If the Americans don’t want to return it, that’s their decision. This demonstrates their dishonesty.” China’s ambassador to France, Lu Shaye, said during an interview on Monday with French news channel LCI, according to Bloomberg News.
Newly released images from the US Navy show divers pulling debris from the massive balloon out of the Atlantic Ocean.
Spokesperson said the shooting of the balloon was an overreaction and “The unmanned Chinese airship is of civilian nature. Its unintended entry into US airspace is entirely unexpected and caused by force majeure. It didn’t pose any threat to any person or to the national security of the US. The US should have properly handled such incidents in a calm and professional manner not involving the use of force, yet they decided to do otherwise, which is a clear overreaction.”
Still, the Pentagon’s top spokesperson spoke out on Wednesday to address larger concerns. He believes the balloons were part of a broader surveillance effort by Beijing. He told reporters at the Pentagon that the “surveillance balloon program has been operating for several years.” While there is currently no hard evidence to support these claims, the topic is being heavily debated amongst politicians.
Biden is taking heat for waiting to shoot down the balloon, although he said he ordered the craft shot down last week, but military brass advised waiting until it was over water to minimize risks to people on the ground.