Chinese weather balloon maker denies connection to downed spy balloon

Chinese weather balloon maker denies connection to downed spy balloon

BEIJING, Feb 25 (Reuters) – Chinese weather balloon manufacturer Zhuzhou Rubber Research & Design Institute said it had no connection to the balloon shot down by the United States earlier this month and was not a military company.

Zhuzhou Rubber, a unit of Chinese state chemical giant ChemChina, said it “is mainly engaged in manufacturing sounding balloons of natural latex in compliance with all applicable laws and regulations”.

“Our products are used for daily weather forecasting by weather stations, and do NOT have any connection with the so-called and reported U.S. balloon incident,” it said in a statement posted on ChemChina’s website.

A suspected Chinese surveillance balloon, which Beijing denies was a government spy vessel, flew over the United States and Canada for a week before being shot down off the Atlantic Coast on U.S. President Joe Biden’s orders.

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China has called the U.S. handling of the balloon incident “hysterical” and an “absurd” act that violated international norms.

The manufacture of weather balloons in China is dominated by Zhuzhou Rubber, which makes 75% of high-altitude balloons used by the China Meteorological Administration, the country’s regulator of state-owned firms said in a statement last year.

Reporting by Brenda Goh and Liz Lee; Editing by Kim Coghill

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