China is now accusing the United States of flying high-altitude balloons over Chinese airspace with permission from its rulers. “Since last year, the U.S.’s high-altitude balloons have undergone more than 10 illegal flights into Chinese airspace without the approval of the relevant Chinese departments,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said at a regular briefing in Beijing in response to a question.
The U.S. ruling class quickly denied China’s claim, but the accusation (true or not) widened a dispute with the United States that began last weekend after the U.S. military shot down what it says was a Chinese spy balloon. According to a report by Reuters, this move prompted top U.S. diplomat Antony Blinken to cancel a trip to Beijing designed to ease tensions.
However, tensions continue to advance even higher.
Much like the ruling class in the U.S., China didn’t elaborate on the balloons or objects in the sky. The Chinese rulers simply said they were responding by being “reasonable and professional.”
White House national security spokesman John Kirby denied China’s accusation. “Not true. Not doing it. Just absolutely not true,” he said in an interview with MSNBC. “We are not flying balloons over China.” The U.S. Defense Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
This has become a worldwide concern. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said the government/ruling class of Great Britain would do “whatever it takes to keep the country safe”. Britain will review its security following the incursion of a suspected Chinese surveillance balloon into U.S. airspace earlier this month, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said, according to a separate report by Reuters.
“The UK and her allies will review what these airspace intrusions mean for our security. This development is another sign of how the global threat picture is changing for the worse,” Wallace told the Telegraph.
“The government is concerned about what’s going on,” said junior transport minister Richard Holden. “China is a hostile state and we need to be aware of that and the way it acts and behaves.”