Blinken says China made “no apology” for the Chinese spy balloon incident
Foreign Minister Antony Blinken said China offered “no apologies” after meeting his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi over the Chinese spy balloon incident.
“I don’t want to characterize what he said. I don’t think that would be appropriate,” Blinken said of the meeting in an interview that aired Sunday with NBC’s Meet the Press. “Although I can tell you no, there was no apology.”
Blinken’s meeting at the Munich Security Conference was the first face-to-face meeting between senior US and Chinese officials after the military shot down a Chinese surveillance balloon off the coast of South Carolina on Feb. 4.
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The discovery of the balloon originally prompted the US to delay a visit to Beijing by Blinken aimed at defusing tensions between the two nations. Blinken said the original visit was not discussed at his meeting in Munich.
“We really focused on the balloon incident,” Blinken said.
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The balloon, which flew over sensitive military locations including missile and nuclear weapons sites in Montana, was a premeditated act, according to Blinken. The military advised President Joe Biden to wait before launching the balloon while it flew over the US to avoid the possibility of debris injuring anyone on the ground.
“An attempt was made to monitor very sensitive military sites. In some cases it stopped or returned to them on their way east,” Blinken said. “So there’s absolutely no doubt for us, A: That was a surveillance balloon. And B: An attempt was made to engage in active surveillance.”
Blinken added that the conversation was “very direct” in an interview that aired Sunday with ABC’s This Week.
“I told Wang Yi, my Chinese counterpart, (the balloon) was unacceptable and must never happen again,” Blinken said.
Biden recently defended the launch, saying he had “no excuse” for the launch and that he expects to speak to Chinese President Xi Jinping about the balloon.
“We’re going to get to the bottom of this,” Biden said in a comment Thursday.
The balloon incident and its aftermath have highlighted the rising tensions in the rivalry between the United States and China, but Blinken urged caution, calling the situation “complicated”.
“You can’t boil that down to a bumper sticker or a label. It’s complicated.” Blinken responded to a question from NBC’s Chuck Todd about whether the tensions could be viewed as another Cold War. “It’s momentous. And we have to deal with it responsibly.”
But Blinken warned that the situation risked becoming another Cold War, stressing the importance of open lines of communication with Beijing on CBS’ Face the Nation.
“We have to make sure that the competition in which we are clearly engaged does not turn into a conflict, into a new cold war,” said Blinken. “It’s not in our interest. I won’t speak to them, but it’s not in our interest.”