China urges US to stay calm over alleged spy balloon crisis
Beijing, Feb 4 (EFE).- The director of China’s Foreign Affairs Commission, Wang Yi, has urged the United States to maintain calm after it was confirmed that an alleged “spy balloon” flying over the North American country was Chinese.
Wang talked to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on phone late on Friday as the two sides discussed the crisis triggered by a China-made airship flying inside US airspace.
“China is a responsible country and has always strictly abided by international law,” the former Chinese foreign minister told the US top diplomat, according to a statement released by Beijing’s foreign ministry on Saturday.
“In the face of an unexpected situation, what both sides should do is to compose themselves, communicate in a timely manner, avoid misjudgment and manage differences,” the statement said.
The “spy balloon” incident has led to Blinken canceling a scheduled China visit this weekend, although US officials said that in the phone conversation with Wang, the diplomat said he expected to visit as soon as the “conditions permit.”
Meanwhile, a Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson insisted on Saturday that no visit by the US diplomat had been announced by either side.
“It is the US’s prerogative to make this (cancellation) announcement, and we respect that,” the spokesperson said.
On Friday, Blinken had said in a press conference that the presence of the Chinese airship in US airspace was irresponsible and “a clear violation of our sovereignty as well as international law.”
The crisis began late on Thursday, the Pentagon announced that it had detected “a high-altitude surveillance balloon” flying over the state of Montana, a state that houses one of three existing nuclear missile silo fields in US territory.
In another press statement on Friday, the Pentagon said it had detected a second Chinese balloon flying over Latin America.
“We are seeing reports of a balloon transiting Latin America. We now assess it is another Chinese surveillance balloon,” Pentagon spokesperson Patrick Ryder said.
On Friday, Beijing admitted that the airship flying over the US was Chinese, but claimed that it was a civilian airship conducting meteorological research that had blown off course and apologized for “the unintended entry of the airship into the US airspace.” EFE