China refuses high-level talks with US after spy balloon incident

Beijing, Feb 9 (EFE).- China has rejected a proposal from the United States to hold high-level bilateral talks between the defense ministers of both countries after Washington shot down a balloon it says was part of a vast surveillance operation orchestrated by Beijing.

China’s defense ministry said the US had “seriously violated international practices and set a very bad precedent” in shooting down the balloon that flew over the US over the weekend and whose remains were being investigated.

“The Chinese Defense Ministry does not accept the proposal that the defense ministers of both countries hold talks, given the US mistake of attacking a Chinese civilian unmanned aircraft,” the ministry said in a statement.

A spokesperson for the ministry added that the way the US had handled the incident had “failed to create a proper atmosphere for dialogue and exchange between the two armies.”

The defense officials of both countries resumed talks in November 2022 after tensions escalated in August following then-speaker of the US House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi’s trip to Taiwan.

Following the visit, China froze dialogue with the US on defense matters, until the leaders of both countries, Joe Biden and Xi Jinping, held a meeting on the sidelines of the G20 summit on the Indonesian island of Bali.

However, the Chinese balloon, which Washington says is part of a surveillance program operated by the People’s Liberation Army, has triggered a new political crisis between both powers.

US president Biden was informed about the balloon last week and the Pentagon confirmed its existence on February 2.

The aircraft crossed the country over several days and was shot down on Saturday when it was already over the Atlantic Ocean.

Beijing has said the airship was a meteorological device that “deviated from its original course,” while Washington insists that it is a surveillance device with which Chinese authorities sought to “monitor strategic sites.”

Its remains, which plunged into the sea, are now being investigated by US experts.

The discovery of the balloon prompted the US Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken, to cancel a trip he was due to make to China last week.

China accused the US of “seriously damaging” relations between both countries after shooting down the rogue device. EFE


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