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The balloon “seriously deviated” from its planned course and entered the skies over Latin America and the Caribbean “by mistake” due to weather conditions and limited control ability over the craft, Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Mao Ning said in a regular press briefing on Monday.
“China is a responsible country. We have always strictly abided by international law. We have informed all relevant parties and appropriately handled the situation, which did not pose any threats to any countries,” Mao said, adding that all parties “expressed their understanding.”
A similar high-altitude Chinese balloon was floating over the US for most of last week.
It was first detected by the North American Aerospace Defense Command on January 28 as it floated eastward over Alaska.
The balloon then travelled down across Canada into the US where it spent some time loitering over sensitive missile sites in Montana, according to officials.
US officials say the balloon was being used for surveillance and the Pentagon tracked the balloon for several days as it made its way over the northern United States before US military fighter jets shot it down over the Atlantic Ocean on Saturday.
China expressed outrage that the aircraft was shot down and repeated their earlier claims that the balloon was for civilian use and that it drifted to the US airspace by mistake.
Multiple US Navy and Coast Guard vessels were in the region working to recover the debris.
The Defence Department has launched “a collaborative effort” with the FBI and “counter intelligence authorities ” to assist with “categorising and assessing the platform itself,” a senior military official official said.