A senior State Department official said Friday that “it wouldn’t be constructive” for US Secretary of State Antony Blinken to visit Beijing right now due to the flying of a suspected Chinese spy balloon over the United States.
“[A] clear assessment was that under these current conditions, it wouldn’t be constructive to visit Beijing at this time,” the official said, adding that the presence of the suspected Chinese spy balloon is “a clear violation of our sovereignty as well as international law.”
Blinken just postponed his upcoming trip to China in response to the suspected spy balloon, according to two US officials.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry maintains it is “a civilian airship used for research, mainly meteorological, purposes.”
The official said the US has acknowledged China’s “statement of regret but the presence of this balloon in our airspace is a clear violation of our sovereignty as well as international law and it is unacceptable that this has occurred,” the official said, calling this not an accusation but “a statement of fact.”
“After consultations with our interagency partners, as well as with Congress, we have concluded that the conditions are not right at this moment for Secretary Blinken to travel to China,” the official told reporters, noting that Blinken was due to depart for Beijing Friday night.
“In this current environment, I think it would have significantly narrowed the agenda that we would have been able to address,” the official added.
Blinken conveyed the decision to postpone the trip directly to China’s top diplomat Wang Yi on Friday morning, according to the official.
The US official said that Blinken intends to travel to China “at the earliest opportunity when conditions allow” but did not elaborate on what conditions the US is watching for.
“I think it might be best if I don’t get into all of the details of our diplomatic communications. But I will underscore we have been crystal clear with our Chinese counterparts that this was an unacceptable and irresponsible incident,” the official said. “And we have been clear about, again, our concerns and our expectations.”
“I’m confident that that will continue, and I’m confident that given that our diplomatic channels remain open, we’ll continue to address this matter forthrightly,” according to the official.
“I’m confident that our channels of communication will remain as important as ever,” the official.