- Sputnik International, 1920
Sputnik brings you all the latest breaking stories, expert analysis and videos from North and South America.

Blinken Postpones Beijing Trip Over Chinese Balloon in Sky Over US Until 'Conditions Are Right'

© AFP 2023 / STEFANI REYNOLDSUS Secretary of State Antony Blinken (R) and China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi attend a meeting in Nusa Dua on the Indonesian resort island of Bali on July 9, 2022
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken (R) and China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi attend a meeting in Nusa Dua on the Indonesian resort island of Bali on July 9, 2022 - Sputnik International, 1920, 03.02.2023
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has reportedly suspended his trip to China this weekend, citing the detection of a Chinese high-altitude balloon over the continental United States.
A senior US official told the press that while the foreign minister did not want to blow the situation out of proportion by canceling the trip entirely, he doesn't want to the balloon issue to dominate his meetings with Chinese leaders, either. The official gave no alternate date for the visit, just saying it would happen when "conditions are right."
The Chinese side has made no response to the news as of yet.
Blinken was due to visit China on Sunday and Monday and meet with several top Chinese officials, including President Xi Jinping, Foreign Minister Qin Gang, and Wang Yi, the Communist Party's top foreign policy official.
The spherical, white high-altitude balloon was first reported over the US state of Montana on Thursday, the location of many of the US' nuclear missile silos, prompting some precautions to be taken by the US Air Force. However, the Pentagon has said the balloon is flying so high up that it "does not present a military or physical threat" and decided against shooting it down.
A screenshot depicting an unidentified balloon over US skies. - Sputnik International, 1920, 03.02.2023
Sputnik Explains
To Shoot or Not to Shoot? What is the 'Spy Balloon' Over the US?
However, the US has also said it believes the balloon to be performing reconnaissance. They did not explain what kind of information the balloon could be gathering that could not be more efficiently and discreetly collected by orbiting spy satellites.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry on Friday confirmed the balloon was indeed Chinese, but said it was civilian, not military.
"It is a civilian airship used for research, mainly meteorological, purposes," a ministry official told reporters. "Affected by the Westerlies and with limited self-steering capability, the airship deviated far from its planned course."
"The Chinese side regrets the unintended entry of the airship into US airspace due to force majeure. The Chinese side will continue communicating with the US side and properly handle this unexpected situation caused by force majeure," the ministry added, referring to the legal principle that frees both parties on a contract from their obligations when so-called "acts of God" beyond their control interfere with its fulfillment.
The Pentagon said the balloon was floating at about 60,000 feet, or 11.3 miles above the surface, and did not contain radioactive material.
To participate in the discussion
log in or register
Заголовок открываемого материала