The US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, said it was “irresponsible and unacceptable for China to fly a spy balloon in the US airspace.”
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Antony Blinken, the top American diplomat, has abruptly canceled the first high-level US-China meeting in Beijing.
Earlier, China responded to it by expressing guilt, saying it was a weather airship that had mistakenly deviated from its path and had been blown into American airspace.
The incident came amidst the political tensions between the two nations.
On Friday, the Pentagon confirmed the spotting of another Chinese spy balloon over Latin America.
“The reports of spotting a second spy balloon hovering over Latin America The Pentagon press secretary, Brig. Gen. Patrick Ryder, said the assessment reports say it is “another Chinese surveillance balloon.” No further details about its location are provided.
Antony Blinken cancels planned visits
“It’s a clear violation of our sovereignty,” said Antony Blinken, describing the Chinese spycraft.
He added, “It’s highly unacceptable and an extremely irresponsible move.” He said, “What’s even more irresponsible is a move coming on the eve of a long-planned meeting.”
The top diplomat was all set to visit to Beijing from 5 to 6 February for discussing issues on national security, Covid-19 and Taiwan.
But, now on Thursday, the officials from US defence are monitoring a high-altitude surveillance balloon over the United States.
“While the balloon was flying above the commercial air traffic and did not pose a threat to people on the ground,” the Pentagon said, “its presence is outrageous.”
On Friday, acknowledging the fact that it’s China’s property, the Chinese said that it was one of their non-military airships used for meteorological research that somehow drifted from its path due to bad weather.
China’s Foreign Ministry issued a statement saying, “We highly regret the incident and would work with the US to find a resolution to the problem.”
Meanwhile, the office of the state department, while the US acknowledged China’s claims about the balloon, the argument still stood that it was used for surveillance.
Blinkin would be planning another visit to China, said an official from the senior state department. In assessing the incident, Washington is looking forward to maintaining an “open line of communication.”
US-China’s ties sour post the incident
The US has informed it about the violation of its airspace by its close allies, the official added.
Global Affairs Canada, the country’s foreign ministry, would summon China’s ambassador and express its position on the incident to the Chinese officials.
Mr. Blinken had agreed with President Biden not to visit China at this time, according to a White House spokesperson.
Following the remarks about the US economy on Friday, President Biden did not take questions on the surveillance balloon.
According to official reports, the anonymous aircraft passed over Alaska and Canada until it was tracked by the Pentagon for appearing in the state of Montana, which houses numerous sensitive nuclear missile sites.
“The balloon was moving eastward over Central America at a height of 60,000 feet, or around 18,200 meters above the ground,” said Pat Ryder, an Air Force Brigadier General, on Friday.
Roger Marshal, a senator from Kansas, wrote on Twitter that early on Friday afternoon, a thunderstorm appeared over the northeastern region of his state.
The object was being monitored and was under review. Gen. Ryder described it as “manoeuvrable” and said it posed no military threat to the civilians on the ground.
The fighter jets were already alerted to shoot down the object, but the defense authority decided not to attack as falling debris would put people on the ground in danger.
Republicans urge to blast the balloon
The Republicans and former President Donald Trump demanded serious action against China.
Several Republican lawmakers urged the US to shoot down the alleged spy balloon.
On his Truth Social social media platform, Mr. Trump left a short message: “Shoot down the balloon.”
The White House Speaker Kevin McCarthy said “the balloon incident was a sabotaging action and must be addressed”
A US official, while speaking to CBS, described the payload of the balloon—the alleged surveillance part attached to the balloon—as being as large as three school buses. The balloon was significantly large.
In 2022, Taiwan’s intelligence also detected some Chinese balloons over its territory, according to the defense ministry.