China reacts with anger as US launches ‘spy balloon’ with missile

The shot balloon

US decision to shoot down balloon was an “overreaction,” Beijing said (Image: Reuters)

China has threatened “further action” after the US shot down a massive suspected spy balloon.

The striking vehicle – reportedly as wide as three buses – was a private weather airship that went off course, Beijing stressed.

She accused the US of an “obvious overreaction” and a “serious violation of international practice”.

“China will resolutely uphold the legitimate rights and interests of the company concerned while reserving the right to take further measures in response,” the country’s foreign ministry added.

President Joe Biden gave orders to target the balloon after it crossed sensitive military terrain.

To avoid injuring anyone on the ground, commanders waited until it was at sea before launching a missile from an F-22 fighter jet to pierce it off Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

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Eyewitness Hayley Walsh told the BBC she saw three fighter jets circling before “we heard a tremendous bang, the house shook”.

The President said, “They successfully mined it, and I want to compliment our airmen who did it.”

The Navy conducted an operation to recover the remains of the balloon.

The incident has further strained America’s relations with China, prompting US Secretary of State Antony Blinken to cancel a trip to Beijing.

Joe Biden

US President Joe Biden ordered the fighter jet pilots to destroy the balloon (Image: Getty)

The balloon entered the US air defense zone north of the Aleutian Islands on January 28, moving over Alaska and then into Canadian airspace.

It re-entered U.S. territory Tuesday over northern Idaho and was sighted a day later over Montana — home of one of America’s three nuclear missile silos at Malmstrom Air Force Base.

The balloon was analyzed in flight to find out what it could measure, a senior defense official said. The Pentagon flatly rejected China’s statement.

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Justin Scacco

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