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Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Conflicts: After balloon launch: Biden sends warning to China

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The shot down suspected Chinese spy balloon continues to cause diplomatic turmoil. In a speech before the US Congress, President Biden clearly emphasized US sovereignty.

US President Joe Biden warned the leadership in Beijing in no uncertain terms after the launch of a Chinese surveillance balloon allegedly used for espionage purposes over US territory. “If China threatens our sovereignty, we will act to protect our country, and we have done so,” Biden said in his official State of the Union address in Washington last night (local time) before both houses of the US Congress.

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But he was determined to work with China where American interests could be promoted for the good of the world. In the past, he made it clear to Chinese President Xi Jinping that the US was looking for competition, not conflict.

Pentagon: China rejects talks

After the launch of a suspected Chinese spy balloon over American waters, Beijing declined an offer to talk, according to the US government.

US Department of Defense spokesman Pat Ryder said in Washington yesterday that immediately after the balloon was launched on Saturday, the Pentagon had requested a meeting between Department Chief Lloyd Austin and his Chinese counterpart Wei Fenghe. However, the Chinese side refused.

“We believe that maintaining open lines of communication between the United States and the People’s Republic of China is important in order to conduct the relationship responsibly,” Ryder said. Especially in moments like this, communication between the armed forces of both countries is particularly important. The US side continues to try to open channels of communication with Beijing.

The appearance of a Chinese surveillance balloon suspected of being used for espionage over US territory has further chilled the already chilly relations between the two countries. The US military shot down the Chinese balloon off the coast of the state of South Carolina over the Atlantic.

China: “Clear overreaction”

Washington accuses China of using the balloon to spy on military installations. The government in Beijing, on the other hand, spoke of a civilian research balloon that had gone off course.

China strongly criticized the launch of the balloon and lamented a “clear overreaction”. In view of the dispute over the balloon, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken canceled a planned trip to Beijing at the last minute before it was launched.

According to a Washington Post report, the balloon is part of Beijing’s extensive surveillance program. Such balloons have been collecting information about military installations in countries and areas of strategic interest to China for years, the newspaper reported, citing US intelligence sources.

These included, for example, Japan, India, Vietnam, Taiwan and the Philippines. The balloons would operate in part from the coast of the southern Chinese island of Hainan. So far they have been sighted on five continents.

Source: Stern

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