Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin’s Regular Press Conference on February 15, 2023: The entry of a Chinese civilian unmanned airship into the US airspace is purely an unintended, unexpected and isolated event caused by force majeure. China has repeatedly communicated this to the US side, yet the US overreacted by abusing the use of force and escalating the situation. It also used the incident as an excuse to impose illegal sanctions on Chinese companies and institutions. China is strongly opposed to this and will take countermeasures in accordance with law against relevant US entities that have undermined China’s sovereignty and security to firmly safeguard China’s sovereignty and legitimate rights and interests.
NBC: China has stated that the Chinese airship shot down by the US had been accidentally blown off course. Could you clarify what then was the intended course, flight path or destination of the downed balloon?
Wang Wenbin: The entry of a Chinese civilian unmanned airship into the US airspace is purely an unintended, unexpected and isolated event caused by force majeure. The facts are clear and shall not be distorted or misrepresented. Despite that, the US still decided to use force against the civilian airship even as it was about to leave US airspace. This is a clear overreaction that seriously contravenes the spirit of international law and customary international practice. What the US did has had a grave impact on the efforts and progress made by China and the US in stabilizing bilateral relations since the leaders’ meeting in Bali. We are firmly opposed to what the US has done and urge the US not to take further actions that could undermine China’s interests or escalate tensions.
Phoenix TV: It was reported that Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau recently told reporters that “obviously there is some sort of pattern” in the four flying objects shot down over the US and Canada in the past week. What is your response?
Wang Wenbin: Other than the US overreaction, we don’t see any pattern here.
AFP: Yesterday you said that US balloons have illegally flown over China’s airspace more than ten times at least since May last year. How did China deal with these US balloons?
Wang Wenbin: Since May last year, the US has released a large number of high-altitude balloons from its territory, which have continuously circled the globe and illegally flown over China’s airspace, including Xinjiang and Tibet, more than ten times at least without the approval of relevant Chinese authorities.
With regard to the unintended entry of a Chinese civilian unmanned airship into the US airspace caused by force majeure, China has repeatedly communicated it to the US side. The US, however, says nothing about the illegal flight of its balloons over China’s airspace without China’s approval, and even accuses China of spreading disinformation. The US cited the unintended entry of a Chinese unmanned airship into its airspace as a violation of its sovereignty, then how does it explain the illegal overflight of its balloons through China’s airspace? China has handled the illegal flight of US balloons through our airspace in a calm and professional manner. By contrast, the US overreacted to the unintended entry of a Chinese civilian airship into its airspace caused by force majeure.
The US needs to give an explanation to China and the international community, reflect on its behavior, stop smearing and attacking China and stop misleading the US public and the international community. China reserves the right to further respond if necessary.