Secretary of State Anthony Blinken meets with top Chinese diplomat amid balloon tensions
Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with his Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi, in Germany on Saturday, marking the highest level contact between Washington and Beijing since a suspected Chinese spy balloon flew across the continental U.S. this month.
Blinken and China’s top diplomat held talks in Munich, where they were attending an international security conference this weekend.
Blinken “directly spoke to the unacceptable violation of U.S. sovereignty and international law by the PRC high-altitude surveillance balloon,” the U.S. State Department said in a statement, using an acronym for the People’s Republic of China.
Tensions between the United States and China started to soar on Feb. 4, when U.S. fighter jets shot down what the Biden administration declared was a Chinese surveillance balloon that had floated across the nation. Blinken was supposed to visit Beijing on Feb. 5 and 6, but he postponed the trip after the balloon nabbed headlines before it went down off the South Carolina coast.
Officials in Beijing have maintained the white balloon was a civilian airship primarily used for meteorological research. It only ended up in American airspace after winds blew the balloon, which boasts limited “self-steering capabilities,” off course, they said.
Earlier Saturday, Wang, the director of the Office of the Central Commission for Foreign Affairs, criticized the downing of the balloon. He also accused the United States of intentionally denying China’s economic advances and impeding its development.
“The actions don’t show that the U.S. is big and strong, but describe the exact opposite,” Wang said. “What we hope for from the U.S. is a pragmatic and positive approach to China that allows us to work together.”
Vice President Kamala Harris on Saturday also commented on the growing tensions between the two nations, sparked by their bickering over the balloon.
She said Washington is “troubled that Beijing has deepened its relationship with Moscow since the war began” in Ukraine and that “looking ahead, any steps by China to provide lethal support to Russia would only reward aggression, continue the killing and further undermine a rules-based order.”
With News Wire Services