China uses Ohio train spill to mock US obsession with spy balloons

China uses Ohio train spill to mock US obsession with spy balloons
Ohio train that derailed was carrying toxic chemicals, officials say

Chinese officials have ruthlessly mocked the United States by contrasting the national freakout over a suspected spy balloon to the muted response to a toxic mushroom cloud over Ohio.

Foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying tweeted: "Apparently some in the US take a wandering civilian balloon as a big threat while the explosive train derailment and toxic chemical leak Not. #OhioChernobyl."

That’s a reference to the February 3 train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio, which led to a controlled release of toxic chemicals to avoid a major explosion. It led to the evacuation of thousands of local residents, amid reports of animals becoming sick and dying from the pollution.

Widespread national news coverage of the disaster was limited at first, and it took top federal officials more than a week to publicly talk about the accident.

The US shot down the Chinese surveillance balloon off the Carolina coast on February 4, after the Pentagon determined that it was being used to gather sensitive military information.

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China has denied those claims, insisting it was merely a civilian research airship which was used to gather weather data.

The nation claimed the balloon had "deviated far from its planned course" due to strong winds.

The Environmental Protection Agency wrote on Twitter: “As of February 12, we have screened 291 homes and no detections of vinyl chloride or hydrogen chloride were identified. There are 181 remaining homes to screen. At this time, EPA has not detected any levels of concern in the community that can be attributed to the incident.”

Chinese state newspaper People’s Daily has also mocked the US response to the balloon, with an editorial saying America "has shown to the world how immature and irresponsible - indeed hysterical - the US has been in dealing with the case."

"The US should have dealt with the balloon case in a calm and responsible way without letting it be hijacked by the bitter domestic partisan politics because a conflict between the two countries would spell disaster for the entire world.”

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