The San Juan Daily Star
Another Chinese balloon flew over Latin America, China confirms
By Emma Bubola
A Chinese balloon floated over Latin America and the Caribbean, the Chinese government confirmed Monday, adding that it was for civilian purposes and was being used for flight tests.
“Affected by the weather and with limited self-steering capability, the airship deviated far from its planned course and entered into the airspace of Latin America and the Caribbean,” a spokesperson for China’s foreign ministry, Mao Ning, said at a news conference Monday.
On Friday morning, before the United States shot down a Chinese spy balloon that had spent the last week traversing the country, the Colombian National Air Defense System detected an object that had entered the northern part of the country’s airspace, the Colombian air force said in a statement.
Officials determined that the object had “characteristics similar to those of a balloon” and that it was flying at an altitude of over 55,000 feet and moving at an average speed of 25 knots.
On Saturday, the United States confirmed that a balloon was observed transiting Central and South America, and said that it was another Chinese surveillance balloon.
“These balloons are all part of a PRC fleet of balloons developed to conduct surveillance operations, which have also violated the sovereignty of other countries,” Brig. Gen. Patrick S. Ryder, the Pentagon’s press secretary, told reporters, referring to the People’s Republic of China.
The Colombian air force said it had tracked the object until it left the country’s airspace, adding that officials determined it did not pose a threat to national security and were investigating its origin.
On Sunday, the Venezuelan Ministry of Foreign Affairs, referring to the U.S. decision to shoot down the balloon Friday, said the government “rejects the attack by the United States against a civilian unmanned aircraft of Chinese origin.” In a statement, the Venezuelan government said: “Once again, the United States resorts to the use of force, instead of treating this situation with the seriousness and responsibility that the case deserves.”
President Nicolás Maduro of Venezuela has recently proposed establishing a new international bloc of Latin American and Caribbean countries and referred to Presidents Xi Jinping of China and Vladimir Putin of Russia as each being an “older brother.”
Mao said the Chinese government had informed relevant officials in other nations about the balloon flying over Latin America and that “they have expressed their understanding.”
The United States, Mao said, had “a clear overreaction.”