Beijing plays down Blinken’s canceled high-stakes visit to the ball
China played down the cancellation of a high-stakes visit by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken after a large Chinese balloon, believed to be monitoring US military sites, troubled diplomatic relations on Friday.
“In reality, the United States and China have never announced a visit, the United States making such an announcement is its own business, and we respect that,” the Chinese Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Saturday. Morning.
Blinken was due to travel to Beijing on Sunday for talks aimed at reducing US-China tensions, the first such high-profile trip after the countries’ leaders met last November in Indonesia. But Washington suddenly canceled the trip after the discovery of the huge mysterious hot air balloon.
China claims it was simply a derailed meteorological research ‘blimp’.
But the Pentagon rejected China’s claims.
The uncensored reactions on Chinese websites reflected the government’s official position that the United States is overreacting.
The balloon was spotted Friday over the state of Montana, home to one of three US nuclear missile silo fields at Malmstrom Air Force Base, defense officials said.
President Joe Biden had refused to knock the ball down, following the advice of defense officials who feared the debris could injure people below.
Meanwhile, people with binoculars and telephoto lenses tried to find the ‘spy balloon’ in the sky as it headed southeast over Kansas and Missouri, flying at about 60,000 feet from above.
The Pentagon also acknowledged reports of a second balloon flying over Latin America. “We are now assessing that this is another Chinese surveillance balloon,” the brigadier said. Pentagon press secretary Gen. Pat Ryder said in a statement.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry did not immediately respond to a question about the second balloon.
China has denied any allegations of espionage and said it was a civilian-use balloon for weather research.
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