Lu Shaye, China’s ambassador to France, believes the U.S. should return debris from the spy balloon it shot down because the balloon belongs to China.
Lu was interviewed by French channel LCI on Monday. A transcript of the interview was posted by the Chinese Embassy on Wednesday, BNN Bloomberg reported. (RELATED: Past Chinese Spy Balloons Were Classified As UFOs, Officials Say)
Lu Shaye, China’s ambassador to France, said the US should return the balloon:
“If you pick up something on the street, you should return it to the owner, if you know who the owner is,” he said https://t.co/DYvggTmvWL
— Peter Martin (@PeterMartin_PCM) February 8, 2023
“If you pick up something on the street, you should return it to the owner, if you know who the owner is,” Lu said, BNN Bloomberg reported. “If the Americans don’t want to return it, that’s their decision. This demonstrates their dishonesty.”
His remarks are the first time China has requested the U.S. return the balloon, the outlet reported. U.S. officials believe the balloon was used to conduct surveillance operations, a claim Beijing denies. Lu downplayed the Chinese balloon and accused the U.S. of using spy balloons.
He claimed “it is not uncommon to see American spy balloons, or balloons used for other purposes,” and Chinese officials “played it low-key, without hype,” according to the New York Post. Lu did not say if the alleged spy balloons were shot down and where they were detected.
The Chinese balloon was reportedly operating from a strategic military base as part of an ongoing espionage campaign to gather information about the U.S. and nearby Asian countries, the Washington Post reported.
U.S. personnel shot down the balloon on Feb. 4 after it traveled over the country for several days. It was first discovered by civilians in Montana where the Malmstrom Air Force Base is located, the site of 150 nuclear-armed intercontinental ballistic missiles, the Wall Street Journal reported.
Navy personnel have recovered parts of the balloon from its landing place off the coast of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. The pieces will be examined by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to better understand how it operated.
The Chinese Embassy did not immediately respond to a request for comment.