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US Navy Divers Search for Chinese 'Spy Balloon' Wreckage

© Photo : Twitter/Carney DunlapTwitter screenshot
Twitter screenshot - Sputnik International, 1920, 06.02.2023
Although the US claims that the unmanned balloon was being used for espionage purposes, China insists the airship was a civilian craft engaged in scientific research that was blown off course by high winds.
The US navy is trying to recover the wreckage of the suspected Chinese surveillance balloon that was downed off the coast of South Carolina on Saturday, General Glen VanHerck, US Northern Command and North American Aerospace Defense Command, has said.
He noted that navy divers would “seek to recover all debris and any material of intelligence value” pertaining to the balloon.

“The debris is in 47 feet (14 meters) of water, primarily. That will make recovery fairly easy, actually. We planned for much deeper water," VanHerck said, adding that the wreckage “would have fallen at least in a seven-mile (11km) radius”.

It is believed that a successful recovery will give the US insight into China’s spying capabilities, though US officials have downplayed the balloon’s impact on national security.
This comes as Beijing warned Washington against escalating tensions or harming China’s interests in connection with downing the balloon.
“China firmly opposes and strongly protests against this. The Chinese government is closely following the development of the situation,” Vice Foreign Minister Xie Feng said.
Xie's remarks were preceded by the Chinese Foreign Ministry rebuking “the US force” for its “clear overreaction and a serious violation of international practice”.
“The Chinese side has, after verification, repeatedly informed the US side of the civilian nature of the airship and conveyed that its entry into the US because of force majeure was totally unexpected. The Chinese side has clearly asked the US side to handle the matter properly in a calm, professional and restrained manner,” the ministry said in a statement late last week.
Chinese 'spy balloon' flight path map. - Sputnik International, 1920, 05.02.2023
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The statement followed US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin saying on Saturday that a F-22 fighter jet had successfully brought the balloon down on the instructions of President Joe Biden. Austin argued that the floating object had been used by China “in an attempt to surveil strategic sites in the continental United States”.
On Thursday, the Pentagon announced it had detected what it described as a “spy balloon” from China lingering over sensitive nuclear sites in the US state of Montana. Beijing claimed that the entity was a civilian airship engaged in scientific research, mainly meteorological studies, and expressed regret that it had strayed unintentionally into US airspace.
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