(JTNews) – China on Sunday threatened to respond after the United States shot down a suspected spy balloon that flew over sensitive military sites while U.S. armed forces are currently recovering the aircraft.
“China will resolutely safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of the company concerned, and reserves the right to make further responses if necessary,” China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which has insisted the balloon was a civilian research airship that went off course, said.
The agency also said China “strongly disapproves of and protests against the US attack,” which it said “is a clear overreaction and a serious violation of international practice.”
The U.S. military popped the balloon Saturday over the Atlantic Ocean after it traversed the continental United States for several days last week, including over sensitive military sites, according to The Associated Press.
The U.S. Navy and Coast Guard began a recovery operation for the balloon on Saturday, but it is unclear how long the mission will take. Officials plan on analyzing the recovered Chinese equipment in the balloon, which fell in about 47 feet of water about six miles off the coast.
“This surveillance balloon purposely traversed the United States and Canada, and we are confident it was seeking to monitor sensitive military sites,” a senior Defense Department official said.