The Chinese government has confessed a balloon sighted over Latin America on Friday is from China – but claimed it is intended for civilian usage.
According to Mao Ning, a spokesperson for the foreign ministry, the plane veered off track after being blown off course.
In response to claims that it was being used for surveillance, military jets on Saturday shot down an identical balloon in US airspace.
China has refuted claims that it was spying, claiming that it was merely monitoring the weather.
A diplomatic dispute between Washington and Beijing has resulted from the event.
US military authorities reported that a second Chinese balloon had been sighted over Latin America on Friday, just before fighter aircraft shot the balloon down over the weekend.
China acknowledged that an aeroplane “accidentally entered Latin American and Caribbean airspace” on Monday.
The second balloon, according to Ms. Mao, “deviated substantially” from its intended course due to the aircraft’s “poor agility” and the weather.
She continued, “The in question unmanned airship that came from China is of a civilian character and utilised for flying experiments.
“China is a responsible nation and has always adhered scrupulously to international law to notify and appropriately deal with all parties involved, without posing any threat to any country,” the statement reads.
The Colombian air force reported over the weekend that an object with “characteristics similar to those of a balloon” had been spotted on February 3 in the nation’s airspace at an altitude of more than 55,000 feet.
Colombia claimed that it had tracked the item till it exited its airspace and added that it posed no threat to the country’s security.
The wreckage of the surveillance balloon that was shot down off the coast of South Carolina on Saturday is still being recovered by US Navy divers in the meantime.
The plan to bring down the balloon was first approved by US President Joe Biden on Wednesday, but he chose to wait until it was over water to avoid endangering people on the ground.
The US thinks the balloon was being deployed to keep an eye on secret military locations.
China claimed it may have veered off course, but Adm Mike Mullen, the former head of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, refuted this claim and claimed that it was manoeuvrable since “it has propellers on it.”
“This did not happen by chance. This was planned. It was sage advice, “Added he.
The event has strained ties between the US and China, with the Pentagon describing it as a “unacceptable infringement” of US sovereignty. The disagreement led to the cancellation of Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s planned trip to China.
China has officially complained about the incident to the US embassy in Beijing.