Beijing [China], February 7 (ANI): Chinese Foreign Ministry has admitted that a balloon spotted over the skies of Latin America belongs to China. Addressing a press conference on Monday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning said that the balloon spotted over Latin America is an unmanned airship from China that is used for flight testing.
"With regard to the balloon over Latin America, it has been verified that the unmanned airship is from China, of civilian nature and used for flight test. Affected by the weather and with limited self-steering capability, the airship deviated far from its planned course and entered into the airspace of Latin America and the Caribbean," Mao Ning said in the press conference.
Mao Ning further said, "China is a responsible country and always acts in strict accordance with international law. We have informed relevant sides. It is being properly handled and will not pose any threat to any country, according to the statement released on the Chinese Foreign Ministry website. They have expressed their understanding." The Chinese Foreign Ministry's statement comes days after the US shot down a suspected Chinese spy balloon.
The Colombian Air Force and Costa Rica's Civil Aviation Authority said that a white observation balloon similar to the one spotted over the US was detected in their airspace last week, CNN reported. However, the Colombian Air Force and Costa Rica's Civil Aviation Authority did not attribute the vessel to China.
A similar Chinese balloon was flying in the US for most of last week. The balloon was first spotted by the North American Aerospace Defense Command on January 28 as it floated eastward over Alaska, as per the CNN report. The balloon then moved across Canada into the US where it spent some time over sensitive missile sites in Montana, CNN reported citing officials.
On February 4, US Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin in a statement said that US fighter aircraft shot down China's surveillance balloon over the water off the coast of South Carolina in US airspace.
"This afternoon, at the direction of President Biden, U.S. fighter aircraft assigned to U.S. Northern Command successfully brought down the high altitude surveillance balloon launched by and belonging to the People's Republic of China (PRC) over the water off the coast of South Carolina in U.S. airspace," Lloyd Austin said in a statement.
He further said, "The balloon, which was being used by the PRC in an attempt to surveil strategic sites in the continental United States, was brought down above U.S. territorial waters." Lloyd Austin said that US President Joe Biden gave his authorization to take down the surveillance balloon.
Austin said that the US Department of Defence after careful analysis created options to shoot down the balloon safely over US territorial waters while closely monitoring its path and intelligence collection activities. He also thanked Canada for its support in tracking and analyzing the balloon as it transited North America. (ANI)