China's Vice Foreign Minister Xie Feng on Sunday lodged solemn representations with the U.S. embassy in China over Washington's use of force to attack a Chinese civilian unmanned airship.
"What the United States has done severely impacted and undermined the efforts and progress made by the two sides to stabilize China-U.S. relations since the two countries' leaders met in Bali, Indonesia," Xie said, according to a statement issued by the Chinese Foreign Ministry on Monday.
He said China firmly opposes and strongly protests this, urging the U.S. side not to take further actions to harm China's interests and not to upgrade or expand tensions between the countries.
According to the statement, Xie also reiterated that the entry of the Chinese airship into U.S. airspace was force majeure, totally unexpected and accidental, and that the ins and outs of what happened are crystal clear and clearly do not allow room for distortion or smearing.
However, the U.S. side has turned a deaf ear to all of this and overreacted by insisting on the abusive use of force towards the civilian airship that was on route to leave U.S. airspace, Xie said. This act has seriously violated the spirit of international law and international practice, he added.
"The Chinese government is closely following the development of the situation, and will resolutely safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of the Chinese company concerned and safeguard China's interests and dignity, and reserves the right to further react in response to this matter, if necessary," Xie said.
The Pentagon confirmed the U.S. military shot down the airship after it drifted off the coast of South Carolina on Saturday.
China has repeatedly informed the U.S. side, after verification, that the airship is civilian in nature and that its entry into U.S. airspace was force majeure and completely by accident, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Sunday.