Secretary of State Anthony Brinken canceled a weekend visit to China after the Pentagon announced it had spotted a Chinese reconnaissance balloon flying over a classified nuclear missile site in western Montana.
The top US diplomat was due to go to Beijing where he was scheduled to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping.It would have been the first visit by a minister in the Biden administration. China The Secretary of State visited the country for the first time in over five years.
I spoke at the State Department after canceling my trip. blinken It said China’s balloon presence 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 scheduled visit is detrimental to the substantive discussions we were preparing,” Brinken added.
The Pentagon on Thursday chinese spy balloon entered U.S. airspace this week, flying over Montana, where one of the classified bases housing nuclear intercontinental ballistic missiles is located.
The Pentagon announced Friday night that the United States has detected a second Chinese spy balloon over Latin America.
China’s foreign ministry said on Saturday that it was “a matter for the United States” to decide when the delegation would visit Beijing, adding that politicians and the media had “promoted” the incident to “attack and smear China.” “I did,” he added.
Beijing rejected suggestions that it was a reconnaissance balloon, saying it was a “civilian airship used primarily for research for meteorological purposes” that deviated from its planned course due to wind and “limited self-piloting capabilities.” said it was.
“The Chinese side regrets that the airship unintentionally entered US airspace. force majeure,” said.
Pentagon spokesperson Brigadier General Patrick Ryder said on Friday that the balloon was heading east and hovering over the center of the United States. He declined to say whether the Chinese military had control of the balloons, but said U.S. commanders determined they did not pose a physical threat to civilians on the ground.
Asked about China’s explanation, he said, “We know it’s a surveillance balloon.” He said he would probably stay over the United States for a few days.
A senior State Department official said Brinken met with China’s top foreign policy official, Wang Yi, on Friday to inform him that he was canceling a trip to China scheduled for this weekend. The official said the administration had expressed concerns to China about the balloons in Washington on Wednesday.
“We have made it clear to our Chinese counterparts that this is an unacceptable and irresponsible incident,” the official said.
China has flown reconnaissance balloons over the country before, but this time they spent more time in the air, according to U.S. officials. The US said it took steps to prevent the balloon from obtaining classified military information.
Canada separately said it was monitoring a “potential second incident.” We will continue to vigorously express our position.”
Mike Gallagher, the Republican chairman of the new House China Committee, and Raja Krishnamooti, the Democratic head of the panel, criticized Beijing for the incident, saying the CCP “should have on-demand access to American airspace.” not,’ he said.
“This is not only a violation of American sovereignty . rice field.
Republican leader of the House Foreign Relations Committee, Michael McCall, told the Financial Times that the United States should remove balloons from its airspace. He said U.S. officials had acknowledged that the balloon was being monitored because it was flying over the Aleutian Islands.
“Keeping it on U.S. soil not only threatens the privacy of all Americans, but also leaves the Chinese Communist Party and other adversaries with a very high degree of confidence that this kind of aggressive intrusion is somehow acceptable. Sending a dangerous message.
The discovery of the balloon suddenly complicated attempts by Washington and Beijing to stabilize turbulent relations. As U.S. President Joe Biden met with Chinese President Xi on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Bali in November, leaders sank to their lowest level since the two countries established diplomatic ties. Under ties, the two powers agreed that they should try to set the floor. 1979.
Biden had called on the Pentagon to provide military options for ballooning, but the administration said it was dangerous to people on the ground and assessed that they were not providing China with information that balloons could not collect. By other means, including low-Earth orbit satellites, which it has decided not to shoot down.
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