The Chinese government did not want to listen to him.

After the United States destroyed the suspected spy balloon over the Atlantic Ocean on Saturday, China rejected Washington’s request for a secure call between Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and his counterpart, National Defense Minister Wei Fenghe, said Tuesday. Pentagon.

The aim of the call appeared to be to de-escalate tensions and open new avenues for dialogue in the aftermath of the spy balloon saga in an effort to «responsibly manage the relationship» between the US and the People’s Republic of China, the Pentagon said. . Press Secretary General Pat Ryder.

«The lines between our armies are particularly important at times like this,» he said. «Unfortunately, the PRC has refused our request. Our commitment to open lines of communication will continue.»

The United States used an F-22 Raptor to shoot down the balloon with a Sidewinder missile early Saturday afternoon. Tensions did not ease after the balloon plunged into the Atlantic Ocean.

Before the Biden administration shared its decision to shoot the balloon out of the sky, China claimed that it was a «civilian airship» used for weather research and that its appearance in US airspace was an «entry involuntary». Beijing said it aimed to continue its dialogue with US officials about its appearance in US skies.

Once the balloon was destroyed, the Chinese Foreign Ministry was quick to share «strong discontent and protest over the use of force» by the US.

“The Chinese side had clearly requested the US side to handle the situation properly in a calm, professional, and restrained manner,” the ministry statement said, calling the administration’s decision an “obvious overreaction and a serious violation of practice.” customary international.

A balloon in the sky over Billings, Mont., in images taken on February 1.  The Pentagon said Thursday that a suspected Chinese spy balloon was flying over the area.
A balloon in the sky over Billings, Mont., in images taken on February 1. The Pentagon said Thursday that a suspected Chinese spy balloon was flying over the area.Chase Doak / AFP – Getty Images

«The Chinese side will resolutely safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of the companies concerned, while reserving the right to provide necessary responses,» the statement said.

A senior administration official responded to China’s statement shortly after it was released, telling NBC News on Saturday that the balloon was used for surveillance and «deliberately traversed ‘the US and Canada’ and we are confident who sought to monitor sensitive military sites.

The inflatable spy machine entered US airspace on January 28 north of the Aleutian Islands in Alaska before entering Canada a few days later. It re-entered the US the next day in northern Idaho before slowly traversing the US, approaching multiple US nuclear sites.

Navy divers are now working to recover pieces of the balloon that will later be analyzed at the FBI Laboratory in Quantico, Virginia.

US officials said it is unlikely that China discovered much information through surveillance of its balloon that it would not already have learned through the use of satellites.

Gen. Glen VanHerck, commander of US Northern Command, told reporters Monday that the US had in fact waited to destroy the balloon because it was gathering intelligence about the inflatable’s capabilities.

“This gave us an opportunity to assess what they were actually doing, what kind of capabilities were out there on the globe, what kind of transmission capabilities were out there,” he said, “and I think you’ll see going forward that the time frame was good. well worth its value to collect.”