NOW: China Threatens American Civilian Aircraft

( – The Chinese Defense Ministry expressed strong objections to the US shooting down a Chinese espionage balloon over the waters just off the coast of South Carolina.

The Ministry described the action as an “obvious overreaction” and suggested it could take reciprocal action against American civilian aircraft. However, it did not elaborate on what that action would be.

The Chinese government initially denied any knowledge of the balloon. Still, it later confirmed that it was a Chinese-origin balloon and claimed it had entered US airspace due to unforeseeable circumstances.

The Pentagon was aware of the balloon’s existence as early as January 28 but chose not to comment publicly until social media images of the balloon and public concern prompted a public explanation.

The Chinese government claimed that the balloon was a meteorological research vessel for civilian purposes that had accidentally left Chinese airspace.

The Pentagon initially chose not to shoot it down, but widespread public outrage in the US prompted the Department of Defense to confirm that it had used fighter aircraft to shoot it down. The balloon had crossed into the Atlantic Ocean by the time it was shot down.

The Chinese Communist Party expressed outrage and disgust at the Pentagon for taking action on the balloon and threatened to shoot American civilian aircraft out of the sky potentially. The Chinese Defense Ministry spokesman, Senior Colonel Tan Kefei, described the shootdown as a “political show” and warned that China would reserve the right to take necessary measures in dealing with similar situations. The Global Times, a state propaganda outlet in China, noted that Tan’s remarks could be interpreted to mean that Beijing would consider shooting down American civilian aircraft.

The Global Times also objected to the Pentagon using an F-22 fighter jet to take down the balloon, comparing the use of advanced American military technology for the job to “shooting a mosquito with a cannon.” The regime-approved experts quoted in the Global Times stated that using the F-22 sent the message that Washington was not distinguishing between civilian and military aircraft and created a bad precedent.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry addressed the balloon incident in less strident terms, with the spokeswoman reiterating that Beijing had no intention of sending the balloon into the US. The Chinese Foreign Ministry indirectly accused Washington of attempting to deteriorate its ties with Beijing. It warned that the incident tested whether the US was sincere about stabilizing and improving its relations with China.

The People’s Daily, the official newspaper of the Chinese Communist Party, reported that the Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, had a conversation with a top Politburo member, Wang Yi, in which Wang berated Blinken about “groundless speculation and hype.” The Chinese Foreign Ministry responded to reports of Blinken canceling his Beijing visit by asserting that “Neither side has ever announced that there would be a visit.”

The Chinese insistence that the balloon was a scientific research vessel mirrors its defense of growing bases in the South China Sea, many of which are on the soil of foreign countries illegally and appear to have obvious military uses. The Communist Party has spent several years building and militarizing artificial islands in the South China Sea, a source of territorial disputes with several neighboring countries. The US has repeatedly challenged China’s territorial claims in the region, and the shooting down of the Chinese balloon has escalated tensions between the two countries.

What is your reaction to the threat by China to potentially shoot American civilian aircraft out of the sky? In your opinion, if that were to happen, how should the United States respond? Please share your thoughts and views by emailing [email protected]. Thank you.