China has expressed its extreme displeasure and protest" at the U.S. decision to shoot down its balloon, accusing Washington of overreaction and a serious violation of international practice.
U.S. military fighter jets on Saturday shot down the balloon over the Atlantic Ocean in a mission that U.S. President Joe Biden called a success.
The United States believes the balloon was involved in espionage, but China denies it, insisting it was a civilian research balloon that went off course.
The Chinese side has repeatedly informed the U.S. side after verification that the unmanned balloon is for civilian use and entered the U.S. due to force majeure - it was entirely an accident, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said.
China has clearly asked the U.S. to deal with this properly in a calm, professional and restrained manner. A U.S. Defense Department spokesman also said that the balloon would not pose a military or personal threat to ground personnel, the statement said.
Earlier, the U.S. shot down a Chinese balloon as it flew off the southeastern coast of the country.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken canceled a planned visit to Beijing due to the discovery of a Chinese balloon in U.S. airspace.
In a conversation with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, Blinken called the incident an irresponsible act. For its part, Beijing reacted to the cancellation of the U.S. secretary of state's visit by stressing that some politicians and media in the United States have hyped the case to attack and smear China.