The U.S. disputed accusations from China on Monday after the communist nation claimed that the U.S. operates spy balloons over its country.
China’s allegation comes after the U.S. shot down a suspected Chinese spy balloon on February 4 off the coast of South Carolina and has since downed unidentified objects over Alaska, Canada, and Lake Huron over the weekend.
“It is also common for U.S. balloons to illegally enter the airspace of other countries,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin claimed. “Since last year, U.S. high-altitude balloons have illegally flown over China’s airspace more than 10 times without the approval of Chinese authorities.”
The Associated Press noted that Wang offered no details to substantiate his accusations and would not say how the alleged incursions happened or if they were connected to the U.S. government.
National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson said that the communist nation’s claims were a lie and that China was trying to deflect from the embarrassing situation they have caused.
“It is China that has a high-altitude surveillance balloon program for intelligence collection, connected to the People’s Liberation Army, that it has used to violate the sovereignty of the United States and over 40 countries across five continents,” Watson tweeted.
“This is the latest example of China scrambling to do damage control,” she continued. “It has repeatedly and wrongly claimed the surveillance balloon it sent over the United States was a weather balloon and to this day has failed to offer any credible explanations for its intrusion into our airspace and the airspace of others.”
This is the latest example of China scrambling to do damage control. It has repeatedly and wrongly claimed the surveillance balloon it sent over the US was a weather balloon and has failed to offer any credible explanations for its intrusion into our airspace, airspace of others.
— Adrienne Watson (@NSC_Spox) February 13, 2023
The National Security Council’s John Kirby flatly denied China’s claims during an interview Monday morning on MSNBC.
"We are not flying balloons over China."
National Security Council’s John Kirby unequivocally denies Beijing’s claim that the U.S. has flown its own spy balloons over China https://t.co/w0JONCtAWB pic.twitter.com/57LeHFeSXc
— Morning Joe (@Morning_Joe) February 13, 2023
The U.S. government responded to the Chinese spy balloon by sanctioning six Chinese aerospace companies over their purported involvement in the country’s spy balloon program.
The Commerce Department announced the sanctions on Friday, less than a week after the Air Force shot down a Chinese surveillance balloon over the Atlantic Ocean that had traversed the continental U.S.
“The PRC’s [People’s Republic of China] use of high-altitude balloons violates our sovereignty and threatens U.S. national security,” Alan Estevez, undersecretary of commerce for industry and security, said in a statement. “Today’s action makes clear that entities that seek to harm U.S. national security and sovereignty will be cut off from accessing U.S. technologies.”
The six Chinese entities in question will be placed on the Entity List, where trade restrictions are placed on companies that have been determined to jeopardize national security by the Commerce Department.
The Chinese entities in question are Beijing Nanjiang Aerospace Technology, China Electronics Technology Group Corporation 48th Research Institute, Dongguan Lingkong Remote Sensing Technology, Eagles Men Aviation Science and Technology Group, Shanxi Eagles Men Aviation Science and Technology Group, and Guangzhou Tian-Hai-Xiang Aviation Technology.
Leif Le Mahieu contributed to this report.