China calls for return of debris of 'spy' balloon U.S. shot down

"If a person picks up something on the street and knows who the owner is, he should return it to the owner".

Hannah Martens | February 10, 2023, 05:30 PM

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China has called for the United States to return the debris from the balloon it shot down over American territory.

The Chinese ambassador to France, Lu Shaye, made the request during an interview on the French news channel LCI.

A week ago, a giant balloon was spotted in the skies over the U.S., prompting diplomatic tension between the two giants.

According to BBC, the balloon floated diagonally from west to east across most of the continental U.S. and was later shot down off South Carolina over water with a missile fired from a stealth fighter jet.

The balloon is believed to have been 60m tall, BBC reported.

Debris was spread over 11km of the Atlantic ocean after the balloon was brought down.

The U.S Navy worked to retrieve the debris, which was sent to be analysed in an FBI lab, CNN wrote in a tweet.

Return it to owner

The U.S. has made no plans to return the debris of the balloon to China.

However, according to a transcript of the interview posted online, Lu said the U.S. should return the debris as it is Chinese property, no matter its importance.

"Even if it is not important, it must be returned to the original owner because it is Chinese property."

Lu drew the analogy to someone picking up something off the street.

"If a person picks up something on the street and knows who the owner is, he should return it to the owner".

Lu also said, "if the U.S. is unwilling to return it, that is their business".

"This shows that they are dishonest," he added.

Bloomberg reported that Beijing maintains its stance that the balloon was a civilian climate research vehicle, though the U.S. claimed it was for surveillance.

In the interview, Lu doubled down and said it was a weather blimp and that the U.S. was "exaggerating" this matter.

He attributed this to a lack of mutual trust between the U.S. and China.

Lu explained that the balloon most likely deviated from its course due to the weather.

"The weather airship is not a high-tech thing, and there is no way to control it very accurately," Lu said.

Details about the balloon's capabilities

A CNN piece reported that Biden administration officials have released new information regarding the balloon.

A senior State Department official said on Feb. 9 that the balloon was "capable of conducting signals intelligence collection operations" and was part of a fleet that had flown over "more than 40 countries across five continents", CNNreported.

CNN sources stated that the U.S. believed what they recovered from the balloon was beneficial to U.S. intelligence.

China allegedly shot down some balloons

When Lu was asked if China would react the same way if the roles were reversed, Lu said this situation had happened a few times, but China played it "low-key", "without hype".

"There is such a situation. We have shot down balloons with very suspicious motives. Of course, this is a claim on social media, I have no conclusive evidence," Lu stated.

The interviewer asked if Lu was trying to say that China show down spy balloons, Lu said "yes", without providing proof.

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