China admitted it owns the balloon flying over Latin America, saying it is for weather monitoring, not military intelligence gathering.
Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning told reporters Monday that the balloon must have flown off course and ended floating above the region.
China’s response came two days after US warplanes destroyed a similar balloon flying over its airspace and which was under suspicion of espionage.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson confirms to me 2nd balloon spotted over Latin America is China's, claiming it's also civilian. When I responded that US is confident they're spy balloons, she said the US is "deliberately hyping it up" and acting "irresponsibly" @cnn pic.twitter.com/IuodGMlIUS
— Selina Wang (@selinawangtv) February 6, 2023
The balloon was discovered on February 3 at an altitude of 55,000 feet in Colombian airspace. Colombian military officials said they pursued the balloon for several hours but did not try to destroy it as it was about to leave their airspace.
“China is a responsible country and has always strictly abided by international law in order to inform and properly deal with all parties concerned, without posing any threat to any country,” the Chinese spokesperson added.
China claims the balloon deviated significantly due to strong winds. “We could only watch helplessly” as the balloon had “limited maneuverability,” the official added.
Colombian officials said the balloon posed no threat, but the United States remains suspicious. National security experts said the balloon could carry cameras, radar and sensors.
Such suspicions shall be justified or put to rest soon. The US military is already attempting to collect the remains of the wrecked balloon.