Blinken and Chinese counterpart meet in first face-to-face since spy balloon shot down | CNN

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US Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with China’s high diplomat Wang Yi on Saturday, within the first face-to-face between senior US and Chinese language officers since the US military shot down a suspected Chinese language surveillance balloon earlier this month.

In a gathering on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference, Blinken “straight spoke to the unacceptable violation of US sovereignty and worldwide regulation,” based on a press release from State Division spokesperson Ned Worth.

The secretary, Worth added, “made clear the US won’t stand for any violation of our sovereignty” and stated incidents just like the surveillance balloon, which hovered over US airspace for days earlier than the US shot it down off the coast of South Carolina, “mustn’t ever happen once more.”

The diplomatic fallout from the balloon has been swift, with Washington accusing China of overseeing an in depth worldwide surveillance program. Beijing, in the meantime, has denied these claims, and in flip accused the US, with out offering proof, of flying balloons over its airspace with out permission. China maintains that its balloon, which US forces recognized after which downed earlier this month, was a civilian analysis plane by accident blown astray.

Wang confirmed what he known as an “casual” assembly with Blinken on Saturday and known as on the US to restore the “harm” to the international locations’ relations, based on a press launch broadcast by CGTN, which is a Chinese language state media outlet. Earlier, Wang had criticized the US’ dealing with of the incident, calling the response “absurd and hysterical” and “100% an abuse of the usage of drive.”

The incident had a direct impression on what had been seen as a chance for the US and China to stabilize relations. In early February, Blinken postponed an anticipated go to to Beijing, after the balloon – floating over the US in plain sight – dominated media headlines and public consideration.

The go to would have been the primary to China by a US secretary of state since 2018, on the heels of a comparatively amicable face-to-face between US President Joe Biden and Chinese language chief Xi Jinping on the Group of 20 summit in November.

Biden stated Thursday that he expects to speak with Xi about the balloon however that he won’t apologize for taking pictures it down.

“I hope we’re going to resolve this, however I make no apologies for taking down that balloon,” he stated.

Some analysts believed that Beijing, economically drained by its now-abandoned zero-Covid technique, had been softening its tone on international affairs and upping its diplomacy with Western governments in a bid to win again misplaced floor.

Whereas expectations for substantial breakthroughs had been low, Blinken’s journey was supposed to construct a flooring for fraught US-China relations and forestall tensions from veering into open battle – guardrails meant to maintain incidents just like the suspected surveillance balloon from escalating right into a full-blown diplomatic disaster.

CNN reported Wednesday that US intelligence officers are assessing the chance that the balloon was not intentionally maneuvered into the continental US by the Chinese language authorities and are analyzing whether or not it was diverted astray by robust winds, based on a number of individuals briefed on the intelligence.

Any intelligence suggesting that the balloon’s path into the US might have been unintentional might probably ease tensions between the 2 nations.

Wang, who was named Xi’s high international coverage adviser final month, has already visited France and Italy this week and is predicted to go to Russia after the Munich convention.

The journey will probably be a take a look at of Beijing’s try and strike a diplomatic balancing act between boosting relations with the West and sustaining shut ties with Moscow.

Blinken and Wang on Saturday mentioned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, with the US secretary of state warning “in regards to the implications and penalties” if China will increase its help for Russia’s battle effort, based on Worth’s readout of the assembly.

US officers aware of the intelligence told CNN earlier Saturday that the US has just lately begun seeing “disturbing” trendlines in China’s help for Russia’s army and there are indicators that Beijing needs to “creep as much as the road” of offering deadly army assist to Russia with out getting caught.

These officers wouldn’t describe intimately what intelligence the US has seen suggesting a latest shift in China’s posture, however stated US officers have been involved sufficient that they’ve shared the intelligence with allies and companions in Munich during the last a number of days.

China’s relationship with Europe has come beneath important stress within the wake of the Ukraine battle. Beijing has refused to sentence the invasion outright or help quite a few measures in opposition to it on the United Nations. China has additionally continued to companion with the Russian army throughout large-scale workouts, whereas boosting its commerce and gas purchases from Moscow.

Based on China’s International Ministry spokesman, Wang’s go to to Moscow will present a chance for China and Russia to proceed to develop their strategic partnership and “alternate views” on “worldwide and regional hotspot problems with shared curiosity” – a catch-all phrase typically used to allude to subjects, together with the battle in Ukraine.

The International Ministry didn’t specify whether or not Wang would meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“China is able to take this go to as a chance and work with Russia to advertise regular development of bilateral relations within the path recognized by the 2 heads of state, defend the official rights and pursuits of either side, and play an energetic function for world peace,” spokesman Wang Wenbin stated.

Wang’s go to may additionally foreshadow a state go to by Xi to Moscow later this 12 months. Putin prolonged an invite to Xi throughout a customary end-of-year name between the 2 leaders, however China’s International Ministry has but to substantiate any plans.

Blinken, who reiterated Saturday the US’ unchanging coverage concerning Taiwan and “underscored the significance of sustaining peace and stability” with the democratically dominated island, bolstered statements from Biden that the US doesn’t search a battle with China however will proceed to “arise for our values.”

“The Secretary reiterated President Biden’s statements that the US will compete and can unapologetically arise for our values and pursuits, however that we don’t need battle with the PRC and aren’t on the lookout for a brand new Chilly Warfare,” Worth stated within the assertion. “The Secretary underscored the significance of sustaining diplomatic dialogue and open traces of communication always.”

This story has been up to date with extra developments.

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