Washington says Chinese ‘surveillance’ balloon in US airspace is an ‘unacceptable’ violation of sovereignty.
Washington DC – Secretary of State Antony Blinken has postponed a trip to China, the United States government confirmed, calling the presence of an alleged Chinese spy balloon “unacceptable” violation of its sovereignty in US airspace.
A senior State Department official said on Friday that “conditions are not right” for the trip that is set to begin on Sunday because of the “irresponsible” balloon flight.
China has expressed regret for the balloon that entered US airspace, describing it as a civilian airship used for meteorological research that “failed its planned mission” due to its “limited self-operation capability”. strayed off course”. But the US administration said the plane was a “high altitude surveillance balloon”.
“We have noted the PRC [People’s Republic of China] Statement of regret, but the presence of this balloon in our airspace is a clear violation of our sovereignty as well as international law, and it is unacceptable that this has happened,” the State Department official told reporters on condition of anonymity. .
The official insisted that the lines of communication between Washington and Beijing remain open as they seek to “manage responsibly”. intense competition between the two countries.
“It was our clear assessment that under these current circumstances, it would not be constructive to visit Beijing at this time, but I will also reiterate that this is a postponement and Secretary [Blinken] The plan is to travel at the earliest appropriate opportunity when the situation is favourable.”
Relations between Beijing and Washington have soured in recent years on several points of tension, including trade issues, status of taiwanClaims the South China Sea and adds to the ongoing US push against growing Chinese influence in the Indo-Pacific.
America has also been warning China to come under the guise of Russia aid in ukraine,
Blinken’s now-postponed trip was intended to ease some of those tensions. It will be the first visit by a US secretary of state to China since 2018, when then-top diplomat Mike Pompeo traveled to Beijing and met his counterpart, but not President Xi Jinping.
US President Joe Biden met xi During the G20 summit in Bali, Indonesia in late 2022.
Both Chinese and US officials have insisted they do not seek confrontation, warning against turning the competition into a new cold war,
Reporting from the White House, Al Jazeera’s Kimberly Halkett said the balloon controversy would dominate Blinken’s trip to China.
He said, “There are already many big issues to be discussed between these two countries… It would be like eliminating all of them.”
The balloon was first seen on Thursday over the North US state of Montana. But the Pentagon said Friday that it is now “in the center of the continental United States,” without specifying exactly which state.
“We currently assess that the balloon does not present a military or physical threat to people on the ground at this time, and we will continue to monitor and review options,” Pentagon press secretary Pat Ryder told reporters.
He said the balloon was flying over civilian air traffic.
Ryder also rejected the Chinese explanation that the balloon was a civilian aircraft for research. “The fact is: We know it is a surveillance balloon,” he said.
Canada, which borders Montana and is frosty relations with chinaSaid that he had summoned the Chinese ambassador on Thursday regarding the incident.
“We will continue to vigorously convey our position to the Chinese authorities through multiple channels,” Canada’s foreign ministry told Al Jazeera in an email.