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China protests US' shooting down civilian airship

By Zhang Yunbi | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2023-02-05 09:45

A balloon flies in the sky over Billings, Montana, US, Feb 1, 2023. [Photo/Agencies]

Beijing "expresses its strong dissatisfaction and protest over the use of armed force by the US side" to attack a civilian unmanned airship from China, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said in statement issued on Sunday.

A Chinese unmanned airship was spotted in the airspace above the United States earlier this week before Washington claimed it shot down the airship on Saturday.

The Foreign Ministry said in its statement that China, after completing verification, "has informed the US side multiple times the airship is for civilian use and it entered the US due to force majeure, constituting a completely unintended situation".

China has clearly requested the US handle the situation properly in a calm, professional and restrained manner, the ministry said.

The Pentagon's spokesman Brig. Gen. Patrick Ryder said on Thursday the airship "does not present a military or physical threat to people on the ground".

"Under such a circumstance, the US side's persistence in using armed force is an obvious overreaction and a serious violation of international practice," the statement said.

China will resolutely safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of the enterprise concerned while reserving its right to make further necessary responses, it added.

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