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China accuses US of indiscriminate use of force to shoot down Chinese balloon

China filed a formal complaint and today accused the US of indiscriminate use of force to shoot down a Chinese balloon over the Atlantic Ocean, which Beijing claims was for civil investigation purposes only.

In a statement, Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Xie Feng said he filed a formal complaint with the US embassy in China on Sunday about the “US military attack on a Chinese civilian unmanned airship”.

Xie stressed that “the civil aircraft entered US airspace by accident” and warned that the decision to shoot down the balloon will “severely damage” relations between the two powers.

The deputy minister described Washington’s reaction as “exaggerated” and accused the country of “gravely violating the spirit of international law”.

“China will protect the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese enterprises and uphold the country’s interests and dignity,” Xie said.

The ministry warned that it “reserves the right to take the necessary measures to deal with similar situations”.

The shooting down of the Chinese balloon led to the suspension of the trip that the US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, was planning to make to China.

US Navy and Coast Guard ships have meanwhile traveled to the Atlantic area where the wreckage of the balloon fell, looking for clues to clarify the nature of the device.

US authorities have established a perimeter to try to prevent intrusions and already assume that they will have to resort to divers or unmanned vehicles to recover the wreckage of the balloon, which they believe to be a spying device.

Beijing admitted on Friday that the balloon was Chinese, although it assured that it was “a civilian airship used for research purposes, mainly meteorological”.

Experts say that the authorities will soon be able to access the wreckage, which is found at a depth of about 15 meters in the waters of the Atlantic.

Authorities also asked the local population for help to prevent citizens from interfering with the investigations.

The balloon was sighted for the first time last Tuesday over the state of Montana and crossed the country towards the east coast until reaching the Atlantic, on Saturday, where it was finally shot down.

The presence of this Chinese device in US airspace has provoked the latest diplomatic crisis between Washington and Beijing.

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