US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has postponed his upcoming trip to China in response to the flying of a suspected Chinese spy balloon over the United States, in what marks a significant new phase in the tensions between Washington and Beijing.
Blinken, who was due to depart Friday night for Beijing, said at a press conference Friday that the high-altitude surveillance balloon flying over the continental United States “created the conditions that undermine the purpose of the trip.” He informed China’s top diplomat, Wang Yi, in a call Friday morning that he was postponing.
“In my call today with Director Wang Yi, I made clear that the presence of this surveillance balloon in US airspace is a clear violation of US sovereignty and international law, that it’s an irresponsible act, and that the (People’s Republic of China) decision to take this action on the eve of my planned visit is detrimental to the substantive discussions that we were prepared to have,” Blinken told reporters Friday.
Blinken said that the US is confident the balloon over the US is a Chinese surveillance balloon, and the Pentagon said Friday evening that there is another Chinese spy balloon that is currently transiting Latin America.
“We are seeing reports of a balloon transiting Latin America. We now assess it is another Chinese surveillance balloon,” Pentagon spokesman Brig. Gen. Patrick Ryder said in a statement to CNN.
It is unclear exactly where over Latin America the balloon is, but a US official told CNN that as of Friday evening, it did not appear that balloon was currently heading to the United States.
The Chinese foreign ministry claimed Friday that the balloon spotted over the US was a “civilian airship” used mainly for