China accused the United States of "indiscriminate use of force" after officials shot down a suspected spy balloon on Saturday (February 4) in South Carolina, NBC News reports.
Vice Foreign Minister Xie Feng issued a statement posted on the Foreign Ministry website claiming the U.S. "obviously overreacted and seriously violated the spirit of international law and international practice" in relation to the incident. Feng added that the U.S. "seriously impacted and damaged" efforts by the two countries to stabilize relations during President Joe Biden's meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Indonesia in November, which took place amid strained tense relations between the two global powers.
Xie said China reserves the right to take further action following the takedown of the balloon. U.S. officials were reported to be monitoring the balloon as of Friday (February 3) before it was shot down by a single missile from an F-22 raptor Saturday (February 4) afternoon.
China had previously claimed the balloon was a "civilian unmanned airship" that was intended for meteorological use and accidentally blew off course while the Biden administration said it was intended for surveillance purposes. A senior Biden administration official said numerous possibilities were considered before deciding, “the only workable way to bring it down safely was the way we did it," via NBC News.
U.S. military officials continued to search for remnants off the Carolina coast and remains found will be analyzed.