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After the balloon incident, Blinken postpones his visit to China


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A US official announced Friday that US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken had postponed a visit he was scheduled to make to Beijing on Sunday and Monday because of a Chinese balloon that violated US airspace, and the Pentagon said its purposes were espionage.

The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that the visit was “postponed”, in a decision that comes at a time when the Chinese government has confirmed that the balloon is only a civilian tool for scientific research and that its entry into US airspace was “unintentionally” and due to “force majeure”.

Another US official confirmed to journalists, on condition of anonymity, that the flight of this balloon in US airspace “represents a clear violation of our sovereignty and international law,” justifying the reasons for postponing the visit despite the “regret” expressed by Beijing.

“We have made clear to our Chinese counterparts that this is unacceptable and irresponsible,” he added.

According to this official, the Biden administration felt that “now is not the right time for the Secretary of State to go” to Beijing.

The Pentagon announced Thursday that it is tracking the movements of a Chinese spy balloon flying at high altitude over the United States, including areas containing sensitive military sites.

At the request of President Joe Biden, the Pentagon considered shooting down the balloon, but ultimately decided not to do so because of the dangers falling debris posed to people, according to a senior defense official.

Blinken’s visit to Beijing would have been the first by a US Secretary of State to China since 2018 and was aimed at easing tensions between the United States and the Asian giant, which Washington considers its main competitor in the world.

However, the same US official stressed that the incident should not be overemphasized, noting that Blinken will set a new date for the visit as soon as “the appropriate conditions are available.”

He added that the United States remains “confident” in its ability to keep “channels of communication open” with China, despite the postponement of the visit.