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China threatens retaliation over spy balloon downing

China has threatened to take measures against US entities related to the February 4 shooting down of a suspected Chinese spy balloon off the American east coast.

At a daily briefing on Wednesday, Foreign Ministry spokesman, Wang Wenbin gave no details and did not identify the targets of the measures.

“China firmly opposes this and will take countermeasures in accordance with the law against the relevant US entities that undermine China’s sovereignty and security,” Mr Wang said at the briefing.

He said China would “resolutely safeguard national sovereignty and its legitimate rights and interests”.

China said the balloon was an unmanned weather airship that was accidentally blown off course, and accused Washington  of overreacting in bringing it down with a missile fired from an F-22 fighter jet.

Earlier this week, China countered that US balloons had flown over its airspace without permission more than 10 times on round-the-world flights since May 2022.

Since the shooting down of the balloon, the US has sanctioned six Chinese entities it said are linked to Beijing’s aerospace programs.

The US House of Representatives voted unanimously to condemn China for a “brazen violation” of US sovereignty and efforts to “deceive the international community through false claims about its intelligence collection campaigns”.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken also cancelled a visit to Beijing that many hoped would stabilise ties that have cratered amid disputes over trade, human rights, Taiwan and China’s claim to the South China Sea.

On Wednesday, however, the US Deputy Secretary of State said diplomatic communication with Beijing had not stopped.

An ABC report notes that while the Chinese government has denied the balloon was a military asset, it has yet to say what government department or company was responsible.