China plans to shoot down a mystery object spotted over port city
In a surprising turn of events, China has now reported sighting a mysterious object flying over its port city of close to the Bohai Sea in the north and is preparing to shoot it down, South China Morning Post reported.
The report comes on the heels of the U.S. shooting down multiple high-altitude objects in the past week, having made public the first sighting earlier this month. The latest take-downs happened over the weekend, over Canada's Yukon Territory, while Beijing has accused Washington of waging "an information war."
Mysterious floating objects everywhere
Last week, when the U.S. shot down the alleged spy balloon after it crossed its mainland and drifted toward the sea, China said it was a weather balloon meant for civilian use and had accidentally entered U.S. airspace. However, within days, more balloons were spotted in other areas, including Latin America, and the U.S. has made it a point to shoot them down.
Intelligence experts told The Washington Post that China was running a massive surveillance program using these balloons, which had also been deployed in other countries such as Japan, India, Taiwan, and the Philippines in the past.
However, the mystery has deepened, with China alleging that it has also spotted a flying object and is preparing to shoot it down. According to messages sent by the Qingdao Marine Development Bureau, the object was first spotted over the waters over Rizhao, but it was not certain what the object was.
While China had been insisting that shooting down a balloon last week was an action that "violated international practice and set a bad precedent," it now appears that local authorities are preparing to bring down the mysterious object in its own waters.
Fishermen have been told to "avoid risks" while being alert and also take pictures of the debris as evidence when spotted. If conditions are favorable, they could also engage in salvaging the debris, SCMP said in its report.
The sighting also comes at a time when the People's Liberation Army (PLA) is conducting military exercises in Bohai Strait, an area that connects the Bohai Sea with the Yello Sea. The exercises began on Sunday.
The balloon saga has already drifted the two nations further apart, even as they were preparing to hold talks last weekend. The U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken has called off a visit that was expected to ease tensions and help manage conflicts between the two nations.