In an attempt to double down on its claims that the balloon that illegally entered the U.S. airspace was just a weather balloon that went off-course, On Saturday, China relieved their National Weather Service Chief of his duties and fired him.
China’s Foreign Ministry announced Zhuang Guotai’s firing just hours before the U.S. military shot down the balloon.
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The U.S. is working on recovering the debris of the Chinese spy balloon for inspection purposes, but Beijing has been claiming that the balloon was harmless and that it accidentally entered U.S. airspace.
China’s Foreign Ministry stated:
“The Chinese side has, after verification, repeatedly informed the U.S. side of the civilian nature of the airship and conveyed that its entry into the U.S. due to force majeure was totally unexpected.”
China strongly protested against the shooting down of the balloon by the U.S. military and said it was a “clear overreaction.”
The Foreign Ministry said:
“China strongly disapproves of and protests against the U.S. attack on a civilian unmanned airship by force.”
“Under such circumstances, the U.S. use of force is a clear overreaction and a serious violation of international practice. China will resolutely safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of the company concerned and reserves the right to make further responses if necessary.”
Contrary to China’s claims, the U.S. Department of Defense discovered that the Chinese balloon was “maneuverable, undercutting the likelihood that it had blown across the Pacific to the U.S.”