Blinken Postponed his Visit to Beijing because of the Chinese BalloonWorld | February 4, 2023, Saturday // 11:10| views
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken postponed his visit to China after the scandal involving the Chinese balloon that flew over the country's territory.
The trip was originally planned for next week. According to an official familiar with the situation, Blinken did not want to blow the whistle by canceling his visit, but he also did not want the balloon to dominate his meetings with Chinese officials.
On Thursday, information appeared about a Chinese spy balloon that flew high over the northwestern part of the USA. It revived tensions between the two countries just days before a visit by Antony Blinken to Beijing.
A senior U.S. defense official told reporters Thursday that taking the balloon down was considered, but it was decided that it would endanger too many people on the ground.
"It is clear that this balloon is intended for surveillance," the official added.
He added that the balloon had flown over areas that housed sensitive air bases and nuclear missiles in underground silos, but the Pentagon did not believe it posed a particularly dangerous intelligence threat.
Meanwhile, China's foreign ministry said the balloon was civilian and was being used for scientific research, "mainly meteorological", ABC reported.
"The airship is from China," the foreign ministry said. "Affected by westerly winds and with limited self-steering capabilities, the airship deviated far from its planned course. The Chinese side regrets that the airship inadvertently entered US airspace due to force majeure."
The statement also said: "The Chinese side will continue to communicate with the US side and deal appropriately with this unexpected situation caused by force majeure."
A second Chinese spy balloon has appeared over Latin America
A second Chinese spy balloon flies over Latin America, the Pentagon said. A day earlier, the first such device was detected in the skies of the USA.
"We are aware of reports of a balloon flying over Latin America. We believe this is another Chinese spy balloon," Pentagon spokesman Gen. Patrick Ryder said, without specifying the exact coordinates of the balloon.
Meanwhile, the first to fly over Montana has yet to be shot down. Authorities in the US and Canada said the Chinese observation balloon had been floating in US airspace for days, but for now it was decided not to take it down because of the risk to people on the ground. The decision caused controversy because the balloon flew over Malmstrom Air Force Base.
Earlier, China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs acknowledged that the balloon was Chinese and said that it appeared there due to strong winds, due to which a serious deviation from the previously marked trajectory occurred.
Because of the events, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken postponed his visit to China. He said China's actions were "irresponsible and unacceptable".
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