On Monday, a Chinese official stated that more than 10 high-altitude balloons from the US have flown into China’s airspace over the last year without the country’s permission. The US has denied these allegations.
Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said in a Monday briefing that "It is also common for US balloons to illegally enter the airspace of other countries. Since last year, US high-altitude balloons have illegally flown over China’s airspace more than 10 times without the approval of Chinese authorities."
According to the Associated Press, Wang did not give additional details about the alleged US balloons, how China has dealt with these balloons, or whether the balloons had military or government links.
Wang said the US should "first reflect on itself and change course, rather than smear and instigate a confrontation."
The allegation came after the US shot down a Chinese spy balloon that traveled across North America, targeting it off the coast of South Carolina. Additional unidentified flying objects later identified as balloons have been shot down since then.
China has claimed that the balloon shot down off the coast of South Carolina was an unnamed airship created for meteorological research, and that this balloon was blown off course.
China has accused the US of overreacting by shooting down the balloon, and has threatened to take action in response.
US National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson said on Monday that claims the US has operated surveillance balloons over China is false.
"It is China that has a high-altitude surveillance balloon program for intelligence collection, connected to the People’s Liberation Army, that it has used to violate the sovereignty of the United States and over 40 countries across five continents," Watson said.
"This is the latest example of China scrambling to do damage control. It has repeatedly and wrongly claimed the surveillance balloon it sent over the United States was a weather balloon and to this day has failed to offer any credible explanations for its intrusion into our airspace and the airspace of others."
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