The Chinese government has recently confirmed that US surveillance balloons have been seen flying over Xinjiang and Tibet, and is warning of potential countermeasures in response.
The US balloons were first spotted in the South China Sea in late April, before moving to the mountainous regions of Tibet and Xinjiang. Chinese state media reports said the balloons had been seen flying at an altitude of more than 10,000 feet, and had been tracked by Chinese military aircraft.
The US government has yet to comment on the reports, but the Chinese government has been quick to respond. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said that the US surveillance flights over China’s territorial airspace violated international law and posed a serious threat to China’s national security.
He added that China was “closely monitoring the situation” and would take “necessary countermeasures” to safeguard its national security and territorial integrity. He did not elaborate on what these countermeasures might Zhao also urged the US to “immediately stop such provocative activities” and noted that China had the right to take “all necessary measures to safeguard its sovereignty”.
The US has long been accused of using surveillance balloons to monitor China’s activities in the South China Sea and other disputed areas. The US has denied these claims, but the presence of the balloons in Xinjiang and Tibet will likely cause further tensions between the two countries.
The US and China are currently engaged in a number of disputes, including over economic issues, Hong Kong, and the ongoing trade war. The presence of US surveillance balloons in China’s airspace is likely to further escalate tensions between the two countries.
It remains to be seen what countermeasures China will take in response to the US surveillance flights. However, the Chinese government has made it clear that it will not tolerate such activities and will take all necessary measures to safeguard its sovereignty.