The United States has said it does not plan to return the debris of the Chinese spy balloon shot down by the Pentagon on Saturday to Beijing, even after technical experts finished analyzing the surveillance capabilities that were on board the spy balloon. gear.
National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said there were no plans to return the debris to China, which accused the United States of violating the “spirit of international law” by shooting down the ball. Beijing claims the plane was used for civilian weather research, a claim the United States has denied.
Asked if the United States would return parts of the balloon recovered by Navy divers carrying out a salvage operation off the coast of South Carolina, Kirby said: “I don’t know of any intention of this. type to send it back.”
In 2001, an American spy plane was forced to make an emergency landing at a Chinese military base on Hainan Island after a Chinese fighter jet rammed the plane in international airspace over- over the South China Sea. China returned the EP-3 plane, but only after spending months examining the plane.
A person familiar with the US administration’s thinking on Saturday’s balloon episode said China did not ask for its return at the time.
Kirby said the White House categorically denied Beijing’s claim that the United States violated international law, saying it was “unequivocally” false
“Actually, that’s why we did it [shot down the balloon] about six miles from the coast, within our territorial airspace, so that we can comply with international law,” Kirby said. “Unlike the Chinese who failed to respect international law by flying over it from US sovereign airspace.”
National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said the United States would “exploit” any parts of the balloon or payload recovered to learn more about the system. He added that the military had advised shooting it over water to “create a greater possibility that we could effectively mine the wreckage than if it were shot over land”.
The balloon episode derailed the two countries’ efforts to establish “a floor” in the turbulent relationship – something that US President Joe Biden and China’s Xi Jinping agreed was needed when they met in Bali in November.
Kirby stressed on Monday that the United States remains committed to trying to stabilize U.S.-China relations, which have reached their worst level since the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries in 1979.
“Nobody wants to see a conflict here,” Kirby said, adding that US Secretary of State Antony Blinken had only “postponed” his planned trip to China, despite telling Beijing on Friday that he canceled the visit in light of the discovery of the balloon in American airspace.
The US Navy continued Monday the rescue operation that began shortly after the crash of the balloon in the Atlantic on Saturday afternoon.
Gen. Glen VanHerck, chief of North American Aerospace Defense Command and U.S. Northern Command, said the balloon was about 200 feet tall and the payload under the large orb – the part of the system that carried the surveillance equipment – was the size of a regional jet.
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