Beijing has denied any knowledge of the three “airborne objects” that the U.S. military shot down in North American airspace over the weekend as China prepares to take down an unidentified flying object near one of its main naval bases.
Chinese Foreign Ministry’s spokesperson Wang Wenbin told reporters in Beijing on Monday that any suggestion that they came from China is just a “smear.”
The U.S. North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) announced that “an F-16 fired an AIM9x to successfully shoot down an airborne object flying at approximately 20,000 feet altitude in U.S. airspace over Lake Huron in the State of Michigan” at 2:42 p.m. on Sunday.
This object was first spotted on Saturday over Montana, when it flew near sensitive military sites, U.S. officials told the media.
However, NORAD said it was not assessed “to be a kinetic military threat to anything on the ground,” but a safety flight hazard and “a threat due to its potential surveillance capabilities.”
Before this, a “high-altitude object” was shot down on Saturday over the Yukon territory in Canada and another “flying object” on Friday off the Northern coast of Alaska, both by U.S. F-22 fighters.
Authorities have yet to determine whether the flying objects are linked to China as recovery efforts continue.
On Feb. 4, a suspected Chinese surveillance balloon was shot down off the South Carolina coast after having drifted for days over the U.S.
Beijing insisted it was a weather balloon that had veered off course but Washington was adamant the balloon had surveillance capability and had been used to “surveil strategic sites in the continental United States.”
U.S. officials also alleged that China operates a “fleet of balloons” and has similarly violated the sovereignty of “some 40 countries across five continents” by going into their airspaces “with the express point of collecting intelligence.”
‘Shooting mosquito with cannon’
Beijing hit back at the U.S. Monday, with Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin saying it had flown high altitude surveillance balloons over China more than 10 times over the past year. Wang said it was “not rare” for the U.S. to fly balloons into others’ territorial airspace.
Beijing previously reacted angrily to the shooting of the balloon on Feb. 4, saying that by using force to attack China’s civilian unmanned airship, the U.S. “seriously violated international practices and set a very bad precedent.”
In light of the U.S. side’s “irresponsible and seriously wrong practice” China reserves the right to take necessary measures, it said.
The Chinese defense minister also refused a phone call with his U.S. counterpart.
Chinese newspapers have criticized the U.S. for its alleged heavy handedness. The Global Times, which is affiliated to the Communist Party’s mouthpiece People’s Daily, published an editorial slamming the U.S. “political behavioral art.”
It mocked the U.S. Air Force over the incidents for “shooting a mosquito with cannon” and said F-22 military fighters have now become known as “balloon killers” on the internet.
The Chinese newspaper said that using advanced fighter jets to shoot down UFOs preemptively is “absurd and expensive large-scale political behavioral art” that could only take place because of the environment of high tension with China.
China to take down object
On Sunday, Chinese authorities said that they were preparing to shoot down an unidentified flying object in Shandong province in Eastern China.
Chinese media said the Shandong maritime authority spotted a UFO over the waters near the coastal city of Rizhao and have alerted local fishermen to avoid the area before taking it down.
The coordinates provided by the Jimo District Ocean Development Bureau in Qingdao, the capital of Shandong, show that the location of the UFO is near the Jianggezhuang, one of China’s major naval bases.
The base, which serves as the headquarters of the People’s Liberation Army Navy’s North Sea Fleet, hosts a number of ballistic and nuclear attack submarines as well as the country’s first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning.
It remains unclear whether the shooting has taken place, despite rampant speculation on Chinese social media.