Chinese response to postponed Blinken visit

Biejing: After a Chinese high-altitude balloon was spotted in US airspace, the Biden administration decided to cancel Secretary of State Anthony Blinken's trip to Beijing. China has said it respects this decision.

Diplomats from both China and the United States must "properly manage bilateral relations, particularly to manage some unexpected situations in a cool-headed and prudent manner," according to a statement from China's Foreign Ministry on Saturday.

In actuality, neither side has ever disclosed that a visit will take place, the ministry noted.

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Regarding the cancellation of Blinken's trip by Washington, the statement said that "it is a matter for the US to make its latest announcement, and we respect that."

The ministry reaffirmed that the balloon that the US claimed was a spying device and was seen in American airspace on Wednesday was actually a Chinese civilian airship that was being used for research, primarily meteorological research. It emphasised that the facts were crystal clear and that the situation was entirely unexpected.

Blinken claimed he telephoned Wang Yi, a senior Chinese diplomat, to let him know he wouldn't be going to Beijing on Friday. The secretary of state allegedly told Wang that Beijing's "decision to take this action on the eve of my planned visit is detrimental to the substantive discussions that we were prepared to have" and that "the presence of this surveillance balloon in US airspace is a clear violation of US sovereignty."

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Wang assured Blinken that China was a responsible nation that upheld international law during the call, according to the Chinese English-language newspaper the Global Times. The paper added that the Chinese diplomat urged both parties to remain focused and avoid making mistakes when handling "unexpected situations."

Blinken's trip to China was supposed to be the first by a US secretary of state to Beijing since 2020; it was allegedly arranged by US President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping at the G20 summit in Indonesia last November.

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Although it didn't appear to be flying in the direction of US territory, the Pentagon reported late on Friday that it had discovered another object, which it had identified as "a Chinese surveillance balloon," flying above Latin America.

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