US Secretary of State Antony Blinken called his Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi, this Friday to announce that he was postponing his trip to the country after detecting a suspected Chinese balloon in US airspace, which he described as “irresponsible act”.
Blinken “took note” that China said it “regrets it,” but “This is an irresponsible act and a clear violation of American sovereignty.” and international law that undermines the purpose of the trip,” according to a statement from the State Department spokesperson.
In the call with Wang, Blinken “underscored that the United States is committed to diplomatic engagement and maintaining open lines of communication, and would be willing to visit Beijing as soon as conditions allow.”
“Any country that sees its airspace violated in this way, I think, would respond in a similar way and I can only imagine what the reaction would have been in China if they were on the other side“added the American foreign minister.
Senior State Department officials said in a call with reporters that the balloon’s presence is about “a clear violation” of sovereignty and international law, making it “unacceptable” and have decided to postpone Blinken’s visit.
“This morning the secretary informed the director of the Foreign Affairs Office (of China), Wang Yi, that the trip had to be postponed,” said the officials, who detailed that the suspension of the trip has been decided after consulting with different agencies. the US Government and Congress.
However, Blinken told Wang that he hopes to be able to travel to China. “as soon as possible when conditions permit.”
Meanwhile, the US will maintain “open lines of communication” with Beijing to talk about the concern that “this incident” has raised and to manage the competition between both countries in a “responsible manner,” the officials said.
Blinken was scheduled to leave tonight for Beijing in the first visit by a Secretary of State to China since 2018.
However, on Thursday the Pentagon reported that it had detected a Chinese spy balloon flying at high altitude over US territory and that it had decided not to destroy it, although it is monitoring it closely, given the danger that its remains could pose if it fell into the air. surface.
China admitted this Friday that the balloon belongs to it, although it assured that “it is a civil airship used for research purposes, mainly meteorological”, and regretted “the unintentional entry” of the device into US airspace.
US Department officials stated that their country recognizes and takes note of “China’s statement of regret,” despite the fact that the presence of the balloon in its airspace is “unacceptable” and a “clear violation” of its sovereignty.
“Our clear assessment is that under these circumstances it would not be constructive to visit Beijing now, but we reiterate that it is a postponement,” they noted.
Despite this crisis, US officials stressed that their Government believes in diplomacy to “responsibly manage the most complex bilateral relationship” that the US has.
“We are committed to keeping lines open with China at all times, including during this incident,” they noted.
(With information from AFP and EFE)
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