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China committed to defend itself against US refusal to return balloon

Beijing, Feb 7 (Prensa Latina) China stated on Tuesday that it is determined to defend its rights and interests against the United States' refusal to return the remains of a scientific balloon, shot down because it entered its air space driven by winds.

“The balloon belongs to China, not the United States,” Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Mao Ning said after commenting on Pentagon spokesman John Kirby’s statement that Washington will retain the device.

However, the official insisted upon the U.S. on the need to handle the matter in a ‘calm, professional manner and without military implications’, reiterating that it was a major force event and the device was civilian.

A Chinese balloon entered US skies last month. Beijing indicated it was conducting meteorological research and deviated from its planned course due to bad weather and limited self-steering capability.

It was also reported that a second balloon ended up flying over Costa Rica and Colombia due to the same weather and technical reasons.

The entry of the balloon into the United States air space created a new focus of bilateral tension because the White House shot it down on Saturday, considering that it was carrying out spy activities, and also canceled Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s visit to Beijing.


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