Secretary of State Antony Blinken reportedly told China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi in a call on Friday that “the presence” of a suspected Chinese spy balloon in “U.S. airspace is a clear violation of U.S. sovereignty and international law.”
During an appearance at the State Department on Friday, Blinken said his team concluded “conditions were not conducive” for him to continue with a planned visit to China this weekend.
The secretary also said he conveyed it was an “irresponsible act and that the PRC’s decision to take this action on the eve of my planned visit is detrimental to the substantive discussions we were prepared to have.”
In addition, Blinken said he told his counterpart that the United States “remains committed to diplomatic engagement with China” and that he plans to visit Beijing in the future “when conditions allow.”
The U.S. government first acknowledged the suspected reconnaissance balloon on Thursday as it was spotted over Billings, Montana.
"A clear violation of U.S. sovereignty and international law."
Sec. Blinken postpones visit to Beijing, calling the presence of a suspected Chinese spy balloon over the U.S. "detrimental to the substantive discussions that we were prepared to have." https://t.co/wFYPDbgvrJ pic.twitter.com/PqPCjcCDj8
— ABC News (@ABC) February 3, 2023
China’s government claimed the balloon is a “civilian airship used for research, mainly meteorological purposes” and essentially got blown off course. The Pentagon rejected that explanation on Friday, calling it a “surveillance balloon” that was about 60,000 feet in the air and “maneuverable.”
The balloon appears to be headed southeast, with possible sightings Friday in Kansas and Missouri.
U.S. defense officials said they are monitoring the balloon and insisted it does not present an immediate military or physical threat to people on the ground. The Pentagon said shooting it down might create the danger of debris falling on people below.