23 March, 2023, 6:36 am
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23 March, 2023, 6:36 am Central - 23°C Rain

Beijing confirms Chinese balloon 'accidentally entered Latin American and Caribbean airspace'

Beijing confirms Chinese balloon 'accidentally entered Latin American and Caribbean airspace'

Tuesday 07/02/2023
Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning says it "accidentally entered Latin American and Caribbean airspace".(AFP: The Yomiuri Shimbun/Ichiro Ohara)

Beijing's foreign ministry has confirmed that a balloon flying over Latin America is Chinese, after a similar device was shot down by the United States over the weekend.

The Pentagon said on Friday that a second suspected Chinese spy balloon had been seen across Latin America.

Colombia's air force then reported an object with "characteristics similar to those of a balloon" had been detected and "monitored until it left the national air space".

The air force said it was conducting investigations in coordination with other countries and institutions "to establish the origins of the object".

Beijing's foreign ministry on Monday said the object was "from China" and that it was of "a civilian nature and used for flight tests".

"Affected by weather forces in addition to its maneuverability being limited, the airship deviated greatly from its expected course, and accidentally entered Latin American and Caribbean airspace," spokesperson Mao Ning told a press briefing.

"China is a responsible country and has always strictly abided by international law," she added.

"We have communicated with the relevant parties and are handling appropriately, and will not cause any threat to any country."

The detection of the other balloon over the United States prompted the cancellation of a planned China visit by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who had been due to arrive in Beijing on Sunday.

China voiced anger on Sunday at the shooting down of the balloon, which it insists was an unmanned weather surveillance aircraft that had veered off course.

Shock to American psyche

Accidental or not, these balloons certainly have had an impact on the American psyche, according to Gordon Flake, CEO of the Perth USAsia Centre.

Speaking on Monday night's edition of The Drum, Mr Flake said: "Unlike most countries, America has for 200 years had a very strong sense of territorial integrity.

"Other than a Japanese submarine off the coast of California in World War II, and potentially the Cuban missile crisis, the American mainland has never been under threat, so this was a real shock to the American psyche.

"It's akin to that of Sputnik. The fact that there was a balloon that you could see from your house or office window and know it was Chinese. Yeah, it is quite a shock.

"And the result is there are those on one extreme who are trying to use this politically as an attack on the United States, and others who see it rather benignly as the old grandpa from Up, floating about in this old century technology. But the truth is predictably somewhere in the middle," he said.

Story by ABC/Wires

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