US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken has postponed his planned visit to China due to tensions between countries caused by the appearance of a Chinese “spy balloon” over US territory. A senior State Department official said Friday, adding that Blinken would seek to travel to China “when conditions permit.”
Earlier, Beijing expressed regret over the incident, calling the reconnaissance facility a “civilian airship” that “flew” into US territory after “losing its course”. This assertion by Beijing sparked political outrage in the United States.
“We have noted with regret the statement of the People’s Republic of China. The presence of this aerial object in our airspace is a clear violation of our sovereignty, as well as international law, and the fact that it happened is unacceptable,” a US State Department spokesperson told reporters. by telephone.
“After consultations with our counterparts in other departments, as well as with Congress, we have concluded that the terms of Secretary Blinken’s trip to China are not working at this time,” the official added.
A suspicious Chinese “spy balloon” has been flying over the United States for several days.
Earlier, a senior US Department of Defense official, speaking to reporters on condition of anonymity, said the United States had been in control of the balloon since it entered US airspace a few days ago and the were watching with military planes.
US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin convened a meeting of senior Pentagon officials on Wednesday during a trip to the Philippines to discuss the balloon incident.
Military officials considered shooting the balloon down over Montana on Wednesday, but ultimately advised President Biden not to because of the threat of debris falling on people.
Billings, Montana’s airport was closed while the military mobilized funds, including F-22 fighter jets, in case Biden orders the balloon shot down.
Officials declined to say how high the balloon flew, but acknowledged that the path of its flight was above civilian air traffic levels and below “outer space”.
Spy balloons have flown over the United States several times in recent years, but this balloon lingered longer than before.