Costa Rica Says China Apologized for Second Alleged Spy Balloon Breaching Airspace

Former President Donald Trump is calling for the Chinese spy balloon floating over the Uni

The Foreign Relations and Worship Ministry of Costa Rica revealed Monday the Chinese Communist Party had apologized after a balloon had deviated into Costa Rican airspace, less than a week after the Pentagon shot down a similar invading vessel over the Atlantic Ocean.

The U.S. Department of Defense confirmed on Friday that it had identified the presence of a Chinese made balloon apparently equipped with surveillance technology over Montana, home to some of the country’s most sensitive nuclear sites. Beijing initially refused to comment on the matter, but then confirmed the balloon was of Chinese origin and claimed that it had flown unintentionally into the United States, citing “force majeure.”

The Pentagon shot it down after it had spanned nearly the entire country, claiming that attacking it over land could potentially injure bystanders below, and waiting for it to float into the waters off of South Carolina.

The Chinese Defense Ministry called shooting down the surveillance aircraft, which it claimed to be a “meteorological” research vessel, an “obvious overreaction” and appeared to threaten to shoot down American civilian aicraft in the future. Chinese state media outlets compared the operation to take the balloon down, executed by an F-22 fighter jet, to “shooting a mosquito with a cannon.”

In contrast to Beijing’s belligerent response to the United States, it reacted tepidly to reports of a second such balloon in Latin America, traversing Costa Rica, Venezuela, and Colombia. The Colombian military identified an “unnamed aircraft” over the weekend in its airspace but did not identify it as Chinese. The second balloon floated across Latin America without any local governments shooting it down.

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In Costa Rica, locals on the ground began documenting the balloon on social media, causing what the local newspaper El Mundo described as “confusion and consernation” and rumors of UFOs.

Costa Rica confirmed that the object was a Chinese balloon with similar properties to the one that traveled across Canada and America on Monday.

“The Chinese Foreign Ministry, through its embassy in San José, lamented the registered incident,” the Costa Rican foreign ministry announced. “The Embassy reiterated that the balloon that was observed from various points in the national territory was of a civil nature and had scientific goals, mainly meteorological.”

“In addition, it was assured that the object did not represent any threat whatsoever to any country and its presence in Costa Rica was due to the fact that it suffered a deviation in its programmed route due to the meteorological conditions and its limited capacity to autodirect,” the Costa Rican government added.

“For the Ministry, it is a priority to maintain its mission of defending national sovereignty, demanding from the international community unrestrained respect for international rights, sovereign, and the territorial integrity of our country,” the statement concluded, without specifying what, if any action, the Costa Rican government took regarding the balloon.

Addressing the Chinese balloon in Latin American, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning appeared to confirm the Costa Rican account, without detailing any interactions with that government in particular.

“Affected by the weather and with limited self-steering capability, the airship deviated far from its planned course and entered into the airspace of Latin America and the Caribbean,” Mao said on Monday. “We have informed relevant sides. It is being properly handled and will not pose any threat to any country. They have expressed their understanding.”

Mao also reiterated the Chinese government was “firmly opposed” to the Pentagon’s decision to shoot down an invading aircraft.

Like the balloon over America, Chinese authorities claimed the balloon over Latin America was intended for meteorological research. The Chinese Communist Party has similarly described other technology violating the sovereignty of its neighbors, particularly in the South China Sea, where China has invested billions in building artificial islands in the territory of Vietnam and the Philippines. Many of the artificial islands, located on former reefs in the Paracel and Spratly Island chains, feature advanced surveillance technology, surface to air missiles, and other military assets, as seen in satellite images of the area. Beijing has insisted despite the evidence, however, that the islands are meteorological research sites.

Costa Rica was once one of a dwindling number of countries that recognized Taiwan as a sovereign state, thereby forfeiting the ability to maintain diplomatic relations with China. In 2009, San José decided to abandon ties to Taiwan to sate China, establishingly diplomatic ties in the name of alleged “elemental realism.”

Taiwan is a sovereign, democratic country off the coast of China with no history of being ruled by any government based in Beijing. China falsely claims the country as a rogue “province” and describes its legitimate, elected government as a band of “separatists” violating Chinese law.

As of November, cementing ties to China has resulted in declining exports to the Asian country and a catastrophic decline in Chinese foreign investment into Costa Rica.

Follow Frances Martel on Facebook and Twitter.


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