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China claims ownership of 2nd balloon spotted over Latin America, denies spying

Chinese balloon, Chinese official
via CBS Evening News, CNN

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    China on Monday claimed ownership of a second suspected spy balloon spotted in the skies of Latin America, saying the object is of a “civilian nature and used for flight tests.”

    The confirmation came two days after an American F-22 fighter jet shot down another Chinese balloon that flew across the continental U.S. last week. That object, according to Beijing, was also a civilian airship but one used “for research, mainly meteorological, purposes.”

    The second balloon was reportedly spotted in the airspaces of Colombia and Costa Rica. 

    Colombia, which trailed the object until it left its territory, did not deem it a national security threat; Costa Rica, which received sighting reports a day later, notified planes but took no further action.

    China blamed weather conditions and limited maneuverability for both the U.S. and Latin America incidents. 

    “China is a responsible country and has always strictly abided by international law in order to inform and properly deal with all parties concerned, without posing any threat to any country,” its Foreign Ministry said on Monday.

    However, the Pentagon has assessed the balloons are “all part of a P.R.C. fleet of balloons developed to conduct surveillance operations, which have also violated the sovereignty of other countries.” 

    The Navy is currently recovering pieces of the first aircraft while the Coast Guard is enforcing security in the area where it was destroyed.

    Reacting to the U.S. response, Taiwan — which has responded to similar balloons breaching its airspace and fighter jets entering its defense zone — said violations of other countries’ sovereignty should not be tolerated. 

    “The Chinese Communist Party government’s actions that violate international law and violate the airspace and sovereignty of other countries should not be tolerated in a civilized international community,” its Foreign Ministry said.

    Beijing has since expressed outrage at Washington’s response to the incident, describing it as “an obvious overreaction.” It also said it “reserves the right to use necessary means to deal with similar situations.”

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