China claims that high-altitude balloons from the United States had flown above its airspace more than ten times in the last year.
Beijing made the accusation after Washington accused China of deploying a global fleet of surveillance balloons.
The news comes a day after US fighter jets shot down a fourth flying object, which the Pentagon said was flying near key military sites and posed a threat to civilian aircraft.
On President Joe Biden’s instructions, it was shot down over Lake Huron in Michigan at 2.42pm local time on Sunday.
The dispute began earlier this month when the US fired down a suspected Chinese surveillance balloon off the coast of South Carolina.
Ships were sent in the water to aid in the recovery effort.
‘Unlawful entry of US balloons into airspace’
Today, China’s foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin provided no information concerning the supposed US balloons.
He didn’t say anything about how they were handled with or whether they had any government or military ties.
“It is also typical for US balloons to illegally infiltrate the airspace of other countries,” he added during a daily briefing.
“Since last year, US high-altitude balloons have unlawfully flown above Chinese airspace more than ten times without Chinese authorities’ authorisation.”
The United States should “first reflect on itself and its course, rather than defame and provoke a confrontation,” the Chinese representative stressed.
The balloon shot down by the US above South Carolina was an unmanned airship designed for meteorological research that had been blown off course, according to China.
It has accused the US of overreacting by shooting it down and has warned unspecified retaliation.
‘Increased vigilance’ following the last ‘objects’
Following the discovery of the balloon earlier this month, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken cancelled a trip to Beijing.
Many had hoped that the visit would put a halt to the deterioration of US-China relations over Taiwan, trade, human rights, and potentially dangerous Chinese actions in the disputed South China Sea.
The balloon was outfitted to detect and gather intelligence signals as part of a massive, military-linked aerial surveillance programme that targeted more than 40 countries, according to the Biden administration, which cited pictures from American U-2 spy planes on Thursday.
General Glen VanHerck of the United States Air Force stated he had no idea what the last three objects were or how they stayed aloft before being shot down.
He did, however, tell reporters that they were not the same as the balloon that caused the row.
“We’re calling them objects, not balloons, for a reason,” he explained, refusing to rule out any explanation when asked if they could be alien.
According to General VanHerck, one of the reasons for the frequent shootdowns is a “heightened alert” following the purported Chinese spy balloon.
As part of its response to the event, the US imposed punitive sanctions on six Chinese organisations it believes are tied to Beijing’s aerospace programmes.
The US House of Representatives also voted unanimously to denounce China for a “brazen infringement” of US sovereignty and efforts to “deceive the international community through false assertions about its intelligence collection programmes”.
In a recent incident, China defends the use of a laser.
“The frequent shooting of advanced missiles by the US to shoot down the objects is an over-reaction of over-exertion,” Wang Wenbin said, repeating China’s denial of US assertions.
Meanwhile, the Philippines accused a Chinese coastguard ship of targeting a Filipino vessel in the South China Sea with a military-grade laser and momentarily blinding part of its crew, calling it a “blatant” infringement of Manila’s sovereign rights.
China said the Philippines coastguard ship had trespassed into Chinese seas without authorization on 6 February and that China replied “professionally and with prudence”.
China claims almost the whole important waterway and has been progressively bolstering its maritime military and island bases.