The United States Coast Guard reported Monday that is imposing a temporary safety zone in the waters of Surfside Beach (South Carolina)in the area where the US military shot down the Chinese spy balloon on Saturday.
The 10-nautical-mile (18-kilometer) security zone blocks entry of vessels without permission from the Coast Guard and it aims to protect the public “from the potential dangers associated with physical objects”. The restricted zone will apply until February 18.
On Sunday Navy and Coast Guard ships traveled to the area of the Atlantic Ocean where the remains of the Chinese balloon fell, in search of clues that would clarify whether it was an espionage device or if it had investigative purposes.
The authorities also asked the local population for help, to prevent citizens from interfering in the investigations. The Horry County Police, in South Carolina, asked citizens to raise the alarm if they see any suspicious objects: “The remains must not be touched, moved or removed.”
The balloon was sighted for the first time last Tuesday over Montana (northeast), where one of the three nuclear missile silo fields in the country is located.
After the Pentagon confirmed the existence of the device, China admitted that the balloon belonged to it, although it assured that it was a civilian airship used for meteorological research purposes, a version to which the United States does not believe.
According to data provided by the United States Government, the Chinese balloon, the size of two buses It entered the national territory through Alaska on January 28, passed to Canada on the 30th and re-entered the United States, over Idaho, on the 31st. It crossed the country until it reached the Atlantic this Saturday, where it was finally shot down.
Meanwhile, the leader of the Democratic majority, Chuck Schumerreported this Sunday that the US Department of Defense will inform the Senate in the coming days about the Chinese spy balloon and the diplomatic crisis with China that it has unleashed.
Schumer, who was already briefed on the issue this Sunday, told a press conference in New York that the entire Senate “will receive a broader and more comprehensive briefing on China next week,” and expressed his hope that there would be no partisan divisions.
White House Security Council spokesman John Kirbydefended this Monday the action of the United States in shooting down the Chinese spy balloon, stating that international law was respected.
In a conversation with the press, Kirby insisted that the United States has sufficient evidence that the balloon was looking to spy on sensitive sites, but downplayed the incident and maintained that “there is no reason” for the tensions in the bilateral relationship “to result in any type of conflict.
For its part, the Chinese regime insisted today that the balloon was “for civilian use” and had a “research” purpose, especially in the field of “meteorology.”
“The ship unexpectedly deviated from its course due to force majeure,” the spokeswoman for the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said at a press conference. mao ningwhich added that China “always respects international laws and the national sovereignty of countries.”
Mao said the US reaction was “exaggerated” to what he described as an “isolated incident.” “This matter should be dealt with calmly without the use of force,” the spokeswoman said.
Likewise, he assured “he did not have information to share” about which company the destroyed aircraft could belong to. “We reserve the right to respond appropriately,” the official settled.
(With information from Reuters and AFP)
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