The remains of the balloon shot down by China over the weekend "do not belong to the United States" and must therefore be returned to Beijing. This was said by the spokesman of the Chinese Foreign Ministry, Mao Ning, during a press conference.
"The Chinese government will resolutely continue to defend its legitimate rights and interests," Mao said in response to statements by the US National Security Council spokesman, John Kirby, according to which Washington has no intention of returning the remains of the alleged "spy balloon" to Beijing.
Mao also reiterated China's official position, according to which the balloon had only "civil uses" and had entered US airspace "by mistake", "without posing any threat to the national security" of the United States. "The US should have handled the incident in a calm, professional and peaceful manner, but they insisted on the use of force," the Chinese spokeswoman noted. The episode led the US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, to postpone an official visit to China which was supposed to start on February 5th. In the meantime, the United States has announced that it has recovered most of the remains of the "spy balloon" from the surface of the ocean, adding that operations to recover the debris that ended up underwater are still underway.
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