Feb 4, 2023 - World

China downplays Blinken postponing visit over alleged spy balloon

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks on human rights at the State Department on April 12, 2022, in Washington, D.C. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

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.
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