Divers, cranes recovering spy flight debris off South Carolina coast
Bryan Llenas reports from Myrtle Beach on the FBI’s collection of Chinese spy flight debris.
The People’s Republic of China is requesting the return of its surveillance aircraft after the balloon was shot down over the continental United States.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning fielded questions Tuesday about the incident, which dominated news cycles and commanded attention from U.S. politicians.
CHINA ADMITS SPY FLIGHT SPOTTED OVER LATIN AMERICA IS THEIRS, CLAIMS IT ‘DEVIATED’ OFF COURSE
U.S. forces haul debris from China’s surveillance balloon onto a boat off the coast of South Carolina. (US Fleet Forces)
A large balloon drifts above the Kingston, North Carolina, area, with an airplane and its contrail seen below it. (Brian Branch via AP)
Asked for additional information regarding the purpose of the balloon and reports of similar aircraft making routes through North American and South American airspace, Mao declined.
“The Chinese side has given information about the unmanned airship on several occasions. I don’t have anything to add at the moment,” she stated.
CHINESE SPY BALLOONS OVER US DURING TRUMP ADMIN ‘DISCOVERED AFTER’ HE LEFT OFFICE: SENIOR BIDEN OFFICIAL
A memorial meeting for Jiang Zemin, a former general secretary of the Chinese Communist Party, is held in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, Dec. 6, 2022. (Yin Bogu/Xinhua via Getty Images)
The Pentagon said Thursday it “acted immediately to protect against the collection of sensitive information” from the balloon. But geopolitical experts said there is little reason to believe those efforts were successful, as the balloon almost certainly transferred surveillance data over to China as it flew over several military bases.
Asked if China has requested the debris from the destroyed aircraft to be returned, Mao said Tuesday, “The airship does not belong to the U.S. It belongs to China.”
US INTEL ASSESSES CHINESE SPY BALLOONS TRANSITED US SEVERAL TIMES, WENT ‘UNDETECTED’: SENIOR ADMIN OFFICIAL
The suspected Chinese spy balloon drifts to the ocean after being shot down off the coast in Surfside Beach, South Carolina, Feb. 4, 2023. (Reuters/Randall Hill)
Mao reiterated in her Tuesday press conference the Chinese Communist Party’s claim that the balloon was civilian in nature and criticized the U.S. government for not acting in a “calm and professional manner.”
“The unmanned Chinese airship is of civilian nature. Its unintended entry into U.S. airspace is entirely unexpected and caused by force majeure. It didn’t pose any threat to any person or to the national security of the U.S. The U.S. should have properly handled such incidents in a calm and professional manner not involving the use of force, yet they decided to do otherwise, which is a clear overreaction.”
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An F-22 fighter jet takes off from Langley Air Force Base to shoot down China’s spy balloon. (US NORCOM)
The Pentagon said Saturday that three similar spy balloons from China flew over the U.S. during the Trump administration – a claim disputed by former Defense Secretary Mark Esper and former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
A senior administration official told Fox News that the existence of the Chinese spy balloons over U.S. territory amid the Trump administration was not discovered until the Biden administration took over.
Timothy Nerozzi is a writer for Fox News Digital. You can follow him on Twitter @timothynerozzi and can email him at [email protected]