China downplays Blinken postponing visit over alleged spy balloon
China downplayed Secretary of State Antony Blinken canceling a visit to Beijing in the wake of a suspected spy balloon flying over the U.S., saying that a meeting between the two countries had never been formally announced.
Why it matters: Blinken confirmed Friday that he postponed a planned trip to China after the surveillance balloon was discovered.
- His trip would've been the first visit by a top U.S. diplomat in six years.
The big picture: The Chinese balloon — suspected of flying over sensitive areas to collect information — has been flying over the U.S. since Wednesday.
- Blinken told Wang Yi, China's top foreign affairs official, that the surveillance balloon in U.S. airspace "is a clear violation of U.S. sovereignty and international law."
- He added that it was "an irresponsible act" and "was detrimental to the substantive discussions that [the U.S. and China] were prepared to have.”
- China claimed the balloon is a civilian airship for "mainly meteorological" purposes.
What they're saying: “In actuality, the U.S. and China have never announced any visit, the U.S. making any such announcement is their own business, and we respect that,” China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement Saturday morning, per AP.
Of note: The Pentagon confirmed to Axios that there's a second balloon flying over Latin America.
- “We now assess it is another Chinese surveillance balloon,” Pentagon press secretary Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder said.