03 Feb 2023, 14:42

China says working to 'verify' reports it flew spy balloon over US

BEIJING, Feb 3, 2023 (BSS/AFP) - China said Friday it was working to verify

the facts around US claims that Beijing flew a spy balloon over its
territory, warning against "hype" over the issue.

The Pentagon said Thursday it was tracking a Chinese spy balloon flying high
over the northwest United States, reviving tensions between the two countries
just days ahead of a rare visit to Beijing by top US diplomat Antony Blinken.

"Verification is under way" over the reports, foreign ministry spokeswoman
Mao Ning told a regular briefing, adding that "until the facts are clear,
making conjectures and hyping up the issue will not help to properly resolve

"China is a responsible country and always abides strictly by international
law. We have no intention of violating the territory or airspace of any
sovereign country," she said.

"(We) hope that both sides will handle (the situation) with mutual calm and
prudence," she added.

A senior US defence official told reporters Thursday that shooting the
balloon down had been considered, but that it had been decided doing so would
endanger too many people on the ground.

"Clearly, the intent of this balloon is for surveillance," added the
official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The official said that the balloon had flown over areas that contained
sensitive airbases and nuclear missiles in underground silos, but that the
Pentagon did not believe it constituted a particularly dangerous intelligence

The discovery comes just days before an expected visit to China by US
Secretary of State Blinken, with managing heightened tensions between the two
powers at the top of the agenda.

At the briefing, Mao said she had no information to share on Blinken's visit.



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