BEIJING: China confirmed Monday that a balloon identified by Washington and Bogota flying over Latin America is Chinese, after a similar device was shot down by the United States over the weekend.
The Pentagon said Friday that a second suspected Chinese spy balloon had been seen across Latin America.
Colombia’s air force then reported an object with “characteristics similar to those of a balloon” had been detected and “monitored until it left the national air space”.
The air force said it was conducting investigations in coordination with other countries and institutions “to establish the origins of the object”.
Beijing’s foreign ministry Monday said the object was “from China” and that it was of “a civilian nature and used for flight tests”.
“Affected by weather forces in addition to its manoeuvrability being limited, the airship deviated greatly from its expected course, and accidentally entered Latin American and Caribbean airspace,” spokesperson Mao Ning told a press briefing.
“China is a responsible country and has always strictly abided by international law,” she added.
“We have communicated with the relevant parties and are handling appropriately, and will not cause any threat to any country.”
The detection of the other balloon over the United States prompted the cancellation of a planned China visit by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who had been due to arrive in Beijing on Sunday.
China voiced anger on Sunday at the shooting down of the balloon, which it insists was an unmanned weather surveillance aircraft that had veered off course. — AFP
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