- Authorities say they will prepare to be able to shoot down the unidentified object
- Fishing boats told to be on alert and ‘avoid risks’, report says
An unidentified flying object was detected over waters near a northern Chinese port city close to the Bohai Sea, with local authorities saying they were ready to shoot it down, mainland media reported on Sunday (Feb 12).
The Qingdao Marine Development Bureau sent a message to fishing boats that an unidentified flying object was detected over waters near Rizhao and authorities were preparing to be able to shoot it down, Shanghai-based news outlet The Paper reported on Sunday.
Fishing boats were ordered to be on alert and “avoid risks”, the report said, without saying when the message was sent or when the object was sighted.
“If debris falls around your boat, please help take pictures as evidence. If conditions allow, please help salvage it,” the message said.
The bureau confirmed to The Paper that it had issued a security alert to nearby fishing boats but did not have an update on what the object was.
The sighting comes as the People’s Liberation Army holds a week-long military exercise in the Bohai Strait, an area connecting the Bohai Sea and the northern part of the Yellow Sea.
The exercises started on Sunday, according to a notice issued by the maritime safety authorities in Dalian, a port city in the northern province of Liaoning.
It also comes a week after the United States shot down what it says was a Chinese spy balloon over the Atlantic.
Beijing denied it was a surveillance airship, saying it was used to monitor the weather and had entered the US airspace by accident. It also accused Washington of overreacting by shooting down the balloon.
The saga heightened diplomatic tensions between the two countries, prompting US Secretary of State Antony Blinken to cancel a trip to China that had been expected to help “build a floor” in the relationship to manage conflicts and ease tensions.
The incident also prompted speculation in the US about Chinese espionage.
The White House said the downed Chinese balloon was part of a multi-country surveillance programme Beijing had developed over several years.
A senior US State Department official said the manufacturer of the balloon had “a direct relationship with China’s military and is an approved vendor for the army”.
China’s largest balloon manufacturer, Zhuzhou Rubber Research & Design Institute, under China National Chemical Corporation, has denied any connection with the balloon incident.
China’s defence ministry said it turned down an offer of a phone call with the US to talk about the incident because the US insisted on using force to attack the balloon, an action that “seriously violates international practice and sets a bad precedent”.
Beijing also said the Chinese side had explained multiple times that the balloon was for civilian use and blown off course and the US was waging “an information war” against China.
Meanwhile, the Pentagon said it shot down a second “high-altitude object” over Alaska on Friday, but gave no details about the object.
It was followed by another takedown of another “unidentified object” flying over Canada’s Yukon territory over the weekend on the orders of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
This article was first published on SCMP.