Top US diplomats planning spy balloon showdown with China in Munich
Top US diplomats planning spy balloon showdown with China at Munich Security conference: Blinken considering face-to-face meeting with Beijing’s foreign minister as diplomatic relations reach boiling point
- Antony Blinken is reportedly mulling a meeting with Wang Yi in Munich
- The secretary of state canceled a trip to China in a sign of spiraling tensions
- Beijing on Monday accused the US of operating its own spy balloons
Secretary of State Antony Blinken is considering meeting with China’s top diplomat at a security conference in Europe this week, in what would be their first face-to-face talks since the U.S. shot down a Chinese spy balloon.
Tensions have hit crisis point during the past week, as U.S. warplanes destroyed four suspicious objects.
It prompted Blinken to abandon a planned trip to China and last week Chinese officials refused a phone call with their American counterparts in a sign of Beijing’s fury.
But Blinken could now meet Wang Yi, Beijing’s most senior diplomat, at the Munich Security Conference which runs from Friday through Sunday.
A senior administration official told Bloomberg News that the U.S. was constantly assessing its options for diplomacy but had nothing to announce.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken is considering meeting with Wang Yi in Europe this week, in their first face-to-face talks since the U.S. shot down a Chinese spy balloon
Since February 4, four objects have been shot down including the Chinese spy balloon, and then three ‘UFOs’
Details emerged as Beijing and Washington engaged in a round of tit-for-tat exchanges.
China on Monday accused the U.S. of flying more than 10 high-altitude balloons through its airspace in the past year without permission.
It comes after Washington said China was running a fleet of spy balloons around the globe.
‘It is nothing rare for U.S. balloons to illegally enter other country’s airspace,’ Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said.
‘We reserve the right to take necessary means to deal with relevant incidents.’
The crisis erupted when a F-22 warplane last weekend shot down a suspected Chinese spy balloon that had traversed the U.S., from Alaska to South Carolina.
On Sunday, a fighter jet shot down an ‘unidentified object’ over Lake Huron on President Joe Biden’s order.
It marked the fourth time an object had been shot down.
Washington has been at panic stations since a balloon drifted across the U.S.
An F-22 warplane last weekend shot down a suspected Chinese spy balloon that had traversed the U.S., from Alaska to South Carolina, once it was over the ocean
Blinken and Wang have met before. They are pictured here in Bali, Indonesia, in July last year
An F-16 fighter jet was used to shoot down an ‘object’ over Lake Huron on Sunday
Officials have been careful not to say too much about the nature of the objects shot down. They have not even confirmed they were balloons, other than the first one which was seen by people on the ground.
That one was equipped to detect and collect intelligence signals as part of a huge, military-linked aerial surveillance program that targeted more than 40 countries, the Biden administration declared on Thursday, citing imagery from American U-2 spy planes.
Part of the reason for the repeated shootdowns is a “heightened alert” following the alleged Chinese spy balloon, General Glen VanHerck, head of North American Aerospace Defense Command and the US Northern Command, said in a briefing with reporters.
The United States has since placed economic restrictions on six Chinese entities it said are linked to Beijing’s aerospace programs as part of its response to the incident.
The US House of Representatives also voted unanimously to condemn China for a ‘brazen violation’ of US sovereignty and efforts to ‘deceive the international community through false claims about its intelligence collection campaigns’.
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