Invasion of US airspace by a Chinese “surveillance” balloon is deemed “inacceptable” by Washington.
Washington, DC — US Secretary of State Antony Blinken postponed a trip to China, citing the purported Chinese surveillance balloon’s reported presence in American airspace as a “unacceptable” breach of the nation’s sovereignty.
The excursion’s intended goal was “undermined” by the balloon incident, Blinken told reporters on Friday in the afternoon. The trip was scheduled to begin on Sunday.
The existence of the surveillance balloon over the United States, in our sky, he continued, “is a flagrant infringement of our sovereignty, a clear violation of international law, and absolutely intolerable.”
China has apologized for the balloon’s entry into US airspace, characterizing it as a civilian blimp used for meteorological research that “deviated considerably from its planned trajectory” due to its “poor self-steering capability.”
It is, according to US officials, a “high-altitude surveillance balloon.”
In a statement released on Saturday, China’s foreign ministry claimed that the flight of a Chinese “airship” over the US was the result of an accident due to circumstances beyond its control and charged US media and politicians with using the incident to cast doubt on Beijing.
In a statement, the ministry stated that China “has always strictly complied with international law and respected the sovereignty and territorial integrity of other countries.”
The ministry added that no visit by Blinken has been disclosed in Beijing or Washington and that “we respect” the US’s right to keep such announcements to themselves.
The Pentagon said that another Chinese balloon had been sighted over Latin America but did not specify where it was when the Chinese statement was released.
“There are rumors of a balloon passing through Latin America. Brigadier General Patrick Ryder, a spokesman for the Pentagon, stated, “We now believe it to be another Chinese surveillance balloon.
pathways for communication
While Blinken’s travel was delayed, a US State Department official emphasized early on Friday that Washington and Beijing continued to communicate openly in an effort to “responsibly manage” the two nations’ escalating rivalry.
The official, who spoke to reporters under the condition of anonymity, said: “Our clear assessment was that at this time, it wouldn’t be constructive to visit Beijing. However, I’ll also reiterate that this is a postponement and the secretary [Blinken] plans to travel at the earliest appropriate opportunity when conditions permit.
Blinken later claimed that Washington and Beijing were in contact to fix the “ongoing” problem.
“The first step is to remove the surveillance tool from our area. We are concentrating on it,” he stated.
The director of China’s Central Commission for Foreign Affairs, Wang Yi, spoke with Blinken over the phone on Friday evening, according to a separate statement from the Chinese foreign ministry, and they discussed how to handle unplanned occurrences in a cool and composed way.
According to the ministry, Wang advised Blinken that they both needed to communicate promptly to prevent any erroneous conclusions. Additionally, according to the State Department, Blinken spoke with Wang Yi over the phone to resolve the issue.
According to the department, “The secretary emphasized that given this ongoing issue, it would not be acceptable to visit Beijing at this time.” tensioned ties
Recent years have seen a deterioration in relations between Beijing and Washington due to a number of grounds of contention, including trade disputes, Taiwan’s legal status, China’s claims in the South China Sea, and an ongoing US campaign against expanding Chinese influence in the Indo-Pacific.
China has also been cautioned by the US not to assist Russia in Ukraine.
Blinken’s now-cancelled trip was intended to ease some of those tensions. It would have been the first trip to China by a US secretary of state since 2018, when Mike Pompeo, who was then the country’s top diplomat, visited Beijing and met with his counterpart but not President Xi Jinping.
At the G20 conference in Bali, Indonesia, in late 2022, US President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi met.
Chinese and US officials have both emphasized that they do not seek conflict and have issued warnings against turning the rivalry into a new Cold War.
The balloon scandal would have overshadowed Blinken’s trip to China, according to Kimberly Halkett of Al Jazeera, who was reporting from the White House. This would be the overall issue for all of the other significant difficulties between these two countries, she said.
On Thursday, the balloon was initially spotted over Montana in the US’s north. However, the Pentagon stated on Friday that it was “above the center of the continental United States” without going into specifics about which state.
According to our current assessment, the balloon does not now pose a military or physical threat to persons on the ground, but we’ll keep an eye on it and consider our options, the Pentagon’s Patrick Ryder told reporters.
The balloon was flying well above commercial air traffic, he continued.
Ryder also rejected the Chinese assertion that the balloon was an experimental research aircraft. The fact is, he replied, “We know it’s a surveillance balloon.
U.S. politicians respond
Kansas’ US Senator Roger Marshall stated on Friday that the balloon was over the northeastern region of the state. “I strongly disapprove of any efforts by the Chinese to spy on Americans. Whether it’s the southern border or our airspace, President Biden must defend US sovereignty, Marshall opined on Twitter.
The Biden administration was criticized over the incident by a number of Republican members of the US Congress, who sought explanations and action.
Josh Hawley, a Republican senator, requested a congressional hearing on the balloon because he considered it to be a “serious domestic security danger.”
Congressman Scott Fitzgerald applauded Blinken’s decision to cancel his trip, but he insisted that “the administration must do much more to inform China that spying against the United States would not be accepted.”
Others in the legislature asked the Pentagon to deflate the balloon. Why won’t Biden destroy the Chinese spy balloon that is now circling the country? Republican Senator Marsha Blackburn stated on Twitter that the Chinese Communist Party poses a threat to our existence.
According to US defense authorities, if the plane were shot down, debris from it may endanger people on the ground.
The balloon was described as a “totally inappropriate” provocation by Democratic Senator Jon Tester, who represents Montana.
“I will hold everyone accountable until I get meaningful answers on how this happened and what precautions the Administration took to safeguard our country,” Tester said in a statement.
In the meantime, Canada, which shares a border with Montana and has tense relations with China, said that the event led to the summons of the Chinese ambassador on Thursday. In an email to Al Jazeera, the Canadian foreign ministry stated that it will “continue to vehemently voice our position to Chinese officials through different channels.”
The security of the nation’s airspace was reportedly a topic of conversation between Blinken and Melanie Joly, Canada’s minister of foreign affairs, on Friday.
According to Joly’s tweet, “We are working with our American colleagues and continuing to take all necessary precautions to preserve Canada’s sensitive information.”