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Antony Blinken Cancels His China Trip After the Discovery of a Spy Balloon

Antony Blinken Cancels His China Trip After the Discovery of a Spy Balloon

Antony Blinken Cancels His China Trip After the Discovery of a Spy Balloon

After the Pentagon said, it found a Chinese spy balloon flying over critical nuclear missile facilities in the western state of Montana, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken canceled his weekend trip to China.

President Xi Jinping of China was anticipated to meet with the senior US official. He would have become the first secretary of state to visit China in more than five years and the first cabinet secretary of the Biden administration to do so.

Speaking at the State Department after canceling his trip, Blinken said the presence of the Chinese balloon was an:

“irresponsible act” and a “clear violation of US sovereignty and international law.” 

“The People’s Republic of China’s decision to take this action on the eve of my planned visit is detrimental to the substantive discussions that we were prepared to have,” 

The change of heart followed the Pentagon’s claim on Thursday that a Chinese surveillance balloon had flown above one of the locations housing nuclear intercontinental ballistic missiles in Montana this week and had crossed US airspace.

On Friday night, the Pentagon announced that the US had discovered a second Chinese surveillance balloon above Latin America. China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Saturday said it was “a matter for the US” to decide when its delegation would visit Beijing, adding that politicians and media had “hyped” up the incident to “attack and smear China.”

Beijing rejected suggestions that the balloon was spying, saying it was a “civilian airship used for research, mainly meteorological, purposes” that deviated from its planned course because of winds and “limited self-steering capability.” it said:

“The Chinese side regrets the unintended entry of the airship into US airspace due to force majeure,” 

Brigadier General Patrick Ryder, a spokesman for the Pentagon, stated on Friday that the balloon was over the US center and was traveling east. He steered clear of commenting on whether China’s military was in charge of the balloon, but he did add that US military leaders had assessed it did not pose a physical threat to those on the ground.

Antony Blinken Cancels His China Trip After the Discovery of a Spy Balloon

He asked about China’s explanation: “We know that it’s a surveillance balloon.” He said it would probably stay over in the US for a few days.

According to a senior state department official, Blinken called Wang Yi, China’s top diplomat, on Friday to let him know he was postponing his trip. According to the official, on Wednesday in Washington, the administration had reservations about the balloon discussed with China. Said the official:

“We’ve been crystal clear with our Chinese counterparts that this was an unacceptable and irresponsible incident,” 

The balloon’s finding has complicated efforts by Washington and Beijing to calm down their tense relationship. The two leaders agreed that the two powers should try to establish a floor under the association, which had deteriorated to its lowest point since the countries’ establishment of diplomatic relations in 1979 when US President Biden and Chinese President Xi met in Bali in November on the sidelines of the G20 summit.

US officials claimed that although China had previously flown spy balloons over the nation, this one stayed in the air for a more extended period. The US claimed it had taken precautions to ensure the balloon couldn’t collect critical military data.

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Canada declared it was keeping an eye on a possible second balloon disaster. Its foreign ministry said it had summoned China’s ambassador to Ottawa to protest against it and that it would:

“continue to vigorously express our position to Chinese officials through multiple channels”.

Mike Gallagher, the Republican head of the new House China committee, and Raja Krishnamoorthi, the panel’s top Democrat, said the Chinese Communist party “should not have on-demand access to American airspace.” the lawmakers said in a joint statement:

“Not only is this a violation of American sovereignty . . . but it also makes clear that the CCP’s recent diplomatic overtures do not represent a substantive change in policy,”

The US should remove the balloon from its airspace, Michael McCaul, the top Republican on the House foreign affairs committee, told the Financial Times. He said US officials had acknowledged they monitored the balloon since it flew over the Aleutian Islands where “it could have easily been shot down over the water.” he said.

“Allowing it to remain over US soil not only threatens the privacy of every American, but it sends a powerfully dangerous message to the Chinese Communist party and our other adversaries that this type of aggressive incursion is somehow acceptable,”

The administration decided against shooting down the balloon due to the risk to people on the ground and its assessment that the balloon did not provide China with intelligence that it could not obtain by other means, including from low-Earth orbit satellites. President Joe Biden had requested the Pentagon to provide military options regarding the balloon.

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