China’s surveillance program ‘has been revealed to the world’, says top US diplomat

Top diplomats from the United States and China met on Saturday in the first high-level contact between their countries since the United States shot down an alleged Chinese spy balloon two weeks ago, with Secretary of State Anthony Blinken sending a message that Beijing’s surveillance program “has been exposed.” to the world.”

Blinken and the Chinese Communist Party’s top foreign policy official, Wang Yi, held the talks in Munich, where they were attending an international security conference, according to the US State Department.

“I condemned the PRC surveillance balloon intrusion and stressed that it must never happen again,” Blinken tweeted, referring to the People’s Republic of China.

His spokesman, Ned Price, said in a statement that Blinken “understood that the United States will not defend any violation of our sovereignty and that the PRC’s high-altitude surveillance balloon program, which has invaded the airspace of more than 40 countries. five continents—subjugated the world,” Price said.

The US is “not looking for a new cold war”.

Blinken canceled a trip to Beijing earlier this month because of the hot air balloon incident, which has become a major point of contention between the two countries. A conference meeting in Germany was widely anticipated.

He also told Wang that the US does not seek conflict with China, reiterating a standard talking point the Biden administration has provided since taking office.

An object is seen in the sky, which is suspected to be a spy balloon.
A Chinese spy balloon drifts into the ocean after crashing off the coast of South Carolina on February 4. Blinken had canceled a trip to Beijing earlier this month because of the hot air balloon incident, which had become the subject of controversy. USA and China. (Randall Hill/Reuters)

“The United States will compete and unapologetically defend our values ​​and interests, but that we do not want conflict with the PRC and we do not seek a new Cold War,” Price said. Blinken “underscored the importance of always maintaining open lines of diplomatic dialogue and communication.”

In addition to the balloon incident, Price said Blinken repeated a warning to China about providing assistance to Russia in its war against Ukraine, including helping Moscow evade Western sanctions against Russia.

LISTEN |: What we know about aerial objects floating over North America.

Front burner19:21What exactly is shooting out of the sky?

It all started two weeks ago with a suspected Chinese spy balloon carrying a cargo roughly the size of three buses. A US fighter jet shot it down after it swam across the continent. The U.S. then shot down a second object, an aerial object over Alaska that the U.S. said was not a balloon at all. And now, this month a third and fourth object has been picked up over North America, in these cases over Lake Yukon and Lake Huron. Today, Dan Lamott explains what is known and unknown about these facilities and what may lead to decisions to destroy them. Lamothe covers the Pentagon and the US military for The Washington Post.

China claims the balloon is being used for weather research

Earlier on Saturday, Wang renewed Beijing’s criticism of the United States over Washington’s downing of a Chinese spy balloon, saying the move did not show US strength.

Beijing insists the white sphere shot down off the coast of Carolina on February 4 was simply an errant civilian aircraft used mainly for meteorological research that drifted due to winds and had only limited “autonomous” capabilities.

A man gestures to the crowd in front of him while speaking at a conference.
Wang Yi, director of China’s Central Foreign Affairs Commission office, speaks at the Munich Security Conference on Saturday. “The actions do not show that the United States is big and strong, but describe the exact opposite,” he said of Washington’s decision to shoot down the balloon. (Peter David Josek/Associated Press)

In his speech at the conference, Wang, director of the Foreign Relations Office of the Central Committee, repeated that claim and accused the US of violating international legal norms by destroying the facility with a missile fired from an American fighter jet.

“Actions do not show that the USA is big and strong, but describe the exact opposite,” he said.

Wang also accused the US of denying China’s economic progress and hindering its further development.

“What we hope from the US is a pragmatic and positive approach to China that allows us to work together,” he said.

WATCH |: President Joe Biden says the spy balloons are part of a larger Chinese fleet.

The US believes the suspicious balloon was part of a larger Chinese fleet

The Biden administration says the alleged Chinese spy balloon that was shot down is part of a fleet flying around the world. Officials faced questions from Republicans at both hearings about why the balloon was not brought down sooner.

His comments came shortly before a speech at the conference by US Vice President Kamala Harris, who did not mention the balloon controversy or respond to Wang’s comments. He emphasized the importance of maintaining the “order based on international rules”.

Harris said Washington was “concerned that Beijing has deepened its relationship with Moscow since the war in Ukraine began” and that “on the face of it, any move by China to provide lethal support to Russia would only reward aggression, continue killings and further undermine the rules.” – based order”.

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