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Beijing `firmly opposed’ to Washington’s attacks in wake of Chinese balloon over US

The Chinese Foreign Ministry stressed that "this is a completely unexpected situation"

BEIJING, February 4. /TASS/. Authorities in China are firmly opposed to US attacks and lies over the recent incident with a Chinese balloon that was spotted flying over the United States, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said on Saturday.

"This is entirely an unexpected situation caused by force majeure and the facts are very clear," China’s diplomatic agency said in a statement. "Some politicians and media in the US have hyped it up to attack and smear China. The Chinese side is firmly opposed to that," it underscored.

According to the statement, Beijing "always acts in strict accordance with international law and respects the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries." "We have no intention to violate and have never violated the territory or airspace of any sovereign country," the Chinese Foreign Ministry emphasized.

On Thursday, Pentagon Press Secretary Patrick Ryder said that an aerial object, presumed to be a Chinese spy balloon, had been spotted moving in the north of the country. In his words, the balloon "is currently traveling at an altitude well above commercial air traffic and does not present a military or physical threat to people on the ground." The US Department of Defense also pointed out that it was dangerous to shoot the balloon down due to its large size.

The spokesman added that after the balloon had been detected, the US government "acted immediately to protect against the collection of sensitive information."

A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson clarified that "the airship is from China. It is a civilian airship used for research, mainly meteorological purposes." The spokesperson added, "Affected by the Westerlies and with limited self-steering capability, the airship deviated far from its planned course." The spokesperson also expressed regret that "force majeure" had led to the meteorological balloon getting into US airspace and said China was ready stay in touch with the American authorities to resolve the situation.