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Blinken Cancels China Trip Over Chinese Spy Balloon

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Blinken Cancels China Trip Over Chinese Spy Balloon

(CTN NEWS) – WASHINGTON – Following the discovery of a possible Chinese surveillance balloon flying across the country in what Washington deemed a “clear infringement” of American sovereignty, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken postponed a trip to China that was scheduled to begin on Friday.

On Wednesday, military officials pondered shooting down the high-altitude observation balloon but ultimately advised against it to President Joe Biden due to the potential of injury from falling debris, according to officials.

On Friday, the Pentagon said another Chinese balloon had been spotted over Latin America without specifying where.

“Reports suggest that a balloon is passing through Latin America. Today, we determine that it is a further Chinese surveillance balloon “Brigadier General Patrick Ryder, a spokesperson for the Pentagon, stated.

Blinken cancels China trip over 1

/ AP

 

According to White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre, Biden was informed about the balloon trip over the United States on Tuesday, and the administration “agreed that it was not suitable to fly to the People’s Republic of China at this time.”

China expressed remorse that an “airship” employed for scientific research and other non-military purposes erred and entered American airspace.

According to Jean-Pierre, the U.S. government was aware of China’s remark “However, the existence of this balloon in our airspace clearly violates international and domestic law. This incident must not have happened.”

The balloon shifted course and was drifting eastward at roughly 60,000 feet (18,300 meters) above the center of the United States on Friday, according to Ryder, the Pentagon spokesman.

It was also displaying its capacity to navigate. He predicted it would continue to be above the nation for a few more days.

Commercial weather forecaster AccuWeather predicted that the balloon might leave the United States on Saturday night and cross the Atlantic.

Blinken Cancels China Trip Over Chinese Spy Balloon3

/ AP

It would be beneficial to recover the balloon “one way or another,” Republican senator Mike Rounds said Fox News, to determine “whether it was supposed to collect data or if it was designed to test our reaction capabilities.”

China’s claim that the balloon was blown off course is directly refuted by the Pentagon’s admission of the balloon’s agility.

Blinken stated that he had informed Wang Yi, director of China’s Central Commission for Foreign Affairs, that the incident on the eve of his trip was an “irresponsible act” by China but that Washington remained committed to engagement.

And that he would visit when circumstances permitted at a news conference with South Korea’s visiting foreign minister on Friday.

Blinken stated that he would not provide a timeframe for his potential trip to China and that the current crisis was the main priority.

Blinken cancels China trip over

/ AP

He stated that removing the surveillance asset from American airspace was the first step and that Washington would continue to have open lines of communication with China.

The balloon shouldn’t have been permitted in American airspace, according to Michael McCaul, the Republican chairman of the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee, and it could have been shot down over the water.

He said, “I am calling on the Biden administration to swiftly take steps to remove the Chinese spy balloon from U.S. airspace.”

In statements released on Saturday, China’s foreign ministry claimed that the “airship’s” trip over the United States was the result of a force majeure accident and accused American politicians and media of exploiting the circumstance to malign China.

It stated that Wang advised Blinken to communicate promptly and prevent erroneous conclusions.

A balloon flies in the sky over Billings

A balloon flies in the sky over Billings, Montana, U.S., February 1, 2023, in this picture obtained from social media. Chase Doak/via REUTERS

OPPORTUNITY MISSED?

An official from the White House claimed that on Thursday afternoon, the administration informed the staff of the so-called Gang of 8, which consists of Republican and Democratic leaders from the Senate and House.

Such balloon monitoring activity, according to the official, “has been noticed for the previous several years, even in the prior administration – we have kept Congress briefed on this subject.”

Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping had decided to postpone Blinken’s trip in November, a setback for those who saw it as a long overdue chance to mend a steadily deteriorating relationship. A U.S. secretary of state last visited in 2017.

China wants a stable relationship with the United States to concentrate on its economy, which has been hurt by the now-abandoned zero-COVID policy and ignored by international investors concerned about what they perceive to be a return of state meddling in the market.

Blinken Cancels China Trip Over Chinese Spy Balloon4

/ GETTY IMAGE

Chinese President Xi has visited with foreign leaders recently to repair relations and resolve differences.

Under previous President Barack Obama, the top U.S. ambassador for Asia, Daniel Russel, stated that he did not see a strategic justification for canceling the trip and emphasized the significance of continuing high-level contact with China.

Because the United States has more pressing issues with China than a surveillance balloon, he added, “the Biden team may be tempted to continue up where they left off after a reasonable interval.”

Relations between China and the United States have deteriorated substantially in recent years, particularly after Nancy Pelosi, the then-Speaker of the US House, visited Taiwan in August.

This visit sparked massive Chinese military exercises close to the self-governing island.

Suspected Chinese spy balloon sighting in Laurel, Montana

LOW VALUE OF INTELLIGENCE

According to Ryder of the Pentagon, the balloon flew much above commercial air traffic and did not pose a military or physical threat to persons on the ground.

It was determined to have “little incremental value from an intelligence collecting perspective,” according to a U.S. official.

On Thursday, a different official indicated, without providing further specifics, that the balloon’s flight path will pass over several critical locations. 150 intercontinental ballistic missile silos are located at the Montanan Malmstrom Air Force Base.

Ryder on Friday declined to specify the location of the balloon, but the National Weather Service in Kansas City tweeted that it had gotten numerous reports of a huge balloon throughout northwest Missouri as he was speaking.

China has frequently voiced complaints about American spying, including the stationing of ships or aircraft close to Chinese military drills.

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Alishba Waris is an independent journalist working for CTN News. She brings a wealth of experience and a keen eye for detail to her reporting. With a knack for uncovering the truth, Waris isn't afraid to ask tough questions and hold those in power accountable. Her writing is clear, concise, and cuts through the noise, delivering the facts readers need to stay informed. Waris's dedication to ethical journalism shines through in her hard-hitting yet fair coverage of important issues.

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