China’s newest stance change in a tale that has captivated the globe is that the United States has launched balloons into Chinese airspace.
Almost two weeks have passed since the United States initially accused China of sending a surveillance balloon above its country.
The Chinese government and people have reacted to the occurrence in a variety of ways, from outrage to fevered conjecture.
Inertia followed by a confession
Pentagon authorities made the balloon’s existence public on 2 February, but Chinese officials waited until the next day to respond.
In a statement, they acknowledged ownership of the item and said that it was a “civilian airship used for study, particularly meteorological purposes” that had been blown off course by the wind.
They took an almost regretful tone, which is unusual for Beijing, and said that it was an accident, blaming “force majeure” for the airship’s unintentional incursion into US airspace.
However, state media became more protective after initially withholding coverage of the news until the government’s acknowledgment.
The China Daily argued that the “manufactured balloon deception cannot be tracked back to China,” while the Global Times encouraged the United States to “be more honest in repairing relations with China instead of undertaking aggressive steps against it.”
In an allusion to the classic Chinese science fiction novel and film The Wandering Earth, netizens were quick to poke fun at the situation, with many dubbing the object “The Wandering Balloon.”
The next morning, when word came that US Secretary of State Antony Blinken had canceled a scheduled trip to China, Chinese officials launched a longer, more aggressive defense, saying that “certain politicians and media in the US have blown it up to attack and slander China.”
The United States fired down the balloon that very day, which angered the Chinese.
Mao Ning, a spokesperson for China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, described the incident as “a obvious overreaction” and “inappropriate and reckless.”
“Despite popular belief, the airship does not belong to the United States. It’s China’s territory, “stated she when asked if China had asked for the balloon debris to be sent back.
The US embassy in Beijing received a formal protest from the officials.
Online, Many Chinese nationalists spewed vitriolic criticism against the United States. Global Times’s former editor-in-chief Hu Xijin opined that the US “had to finish” the crisis with a missile because the US “aren’t able to address an accident by finding truth from facts, instead they had to politicize it.”
Another Chinese-made balloon was sighted floating above Latin America at the same time.
Controversy continues to grow
Due to the lack of information regarding the balloon’s civilian origins, there was much conjecture on Chinese online forums about who had launched it.
Recent media coverage identifying a local firm, ChemChina Zhuzhou Rubber Research and Design Institute, as a major manufacturer of Chinese high-altitude balloons has been pounced upon by many.
Some online commentators speculated that the balloon was produced by ChemChina Zhuzhou, a division of a state-owned firm. But no proof connecting the firm to the balloon has surfaced.
On Sunday, the mystery was compounded by a story in The Paper that an unidentified flying object had been spotted in the skies over the eastern province of Shandong.
It was said that local fishermen had been warned by fisheries officials that Chinese authorities were planning to shoot down the item.
Some Chinese media outlets repeated the news, but the state-run media and government agencies did not. Nonetheless, it caused a frenzy on social media, with some accounts even broadcasting live satellite photographs of the scene.
Some people on the internet, however, responded skeptically and questioned whether or not the news was genuine, wondering why it had not been released through more official channels.
The story takes a new turn
The Chinese government made a new accusation on Monday, saying that American balloons had violated Chinese airspace at least ten times in the previous year.
A spokeswoman for China’s foreign ministry said, “The first thing the US side should do is start with a clean slate, through some self-reflection, rather than smearing and condemning China.”
The United States has refuted the claim.
U.S. government says it has found Chinese underwater balloon sensors.
Meanwhile, official outlets have shifted their coverage to another story: a train transporting toxic materials crashed in Ohio.
In spite of the fact that the incident occurred in early February, Chinese media are just now paying substantial coverage to the matter, citing reports from the United States. The poisonous chemicals on the train have been released in a regulated manner by American officials to prevent further contamination.
It’s since exploded in popularity and is being discussed widely online. The primary Ohio train hashtag on Weibo, China’s version of Twitter, has been seen more than 690 million times since the weekend, and more than 40 more hashtags have been formed in response to the event.
Many Chinese internet users have voiced concern that this may spark a worldwide environmental disaster, and resentment that the railway derailment has received less attention from the American media than the balloons.
It turns like the Wandering Balloon was being utilized to take the heat for Ohio, according to a post that has been liked over 3,000 times.