On Friday, a high-altitude Chinese spy balloon was seen sailing across the US, spying and sending excited or alarmed Americans outside the US. Because of this, the US Secretary of State Antony Blinken abruptly cancelled a high-stakes Beijing trip.
What is the Complete Story?
On Social media, people are trying to find this Chinese spy balloon with binoculars and telephotos as it headed southeastward over Kansas and Missouri at 60,000 Feet. Earlier, the balloon was spotted on Wednesday, 1 February 2023, over Montana, Billings, Mont.
According to the US defence officials, Montana is home to one of America’s three nuclear missile silo fields at Malmstrom Air Force Base. Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder made a statement that they acknowledged another Chinese surveillance balloon flying over Latin America. He refused to give further details regarding this announcement.
White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said the US officials have been tracking the initial spy balloon since Tuesday when first President Joe Biden was briefed about it.
The US officials had prepared fighter jets, such as F-22s, to do the job. But Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin and Gen. Mark Riley strongly suggested the president should not shoot it down as balloon’s size is as huge as 2-3 school buses. If we shoot it down, it could create a debris field large enough to endanger American people on the ground.
Why Antony Blinken Cancelled his Trip to Beijing
The motive behind Blinken’s visit to Beijing was to meet senior Chinese officials to find some common ground at a time of significant disagreements over Taiwan, Human Rights, the Russia and Ukraine war, China’s claim in North Korea and the South China Sea.
Regarding his cancellation of the Beijing trip, Blinken made a statement that he made this decision when China claimed that the balloon was merely a weather research airship. China officials said the balloon was not being used for surveillance and had only limited navigational ability.
Blinken had a call with senior Chinese Diplomat Wang Yi and said the spy balloon sailing over the US was an irresponsible act from China. According to him, China’s decision to take this action is detrimental to the substantive discussions.
On Saturday morning, China’s Ministry of Affairs stated that the US had never been informed about visits to China. The US making such announcements is their business, and they respect that. Beijing’s officials claimed that they have always been strictly following international laws.
They do not accept any groundless hype and speculation. They said the US and China need to calm down, communicate in a timely manner and manage differences to solve this problem as both parties encountered an unexpected situation.
However, Jean-Pierre stated that it would not be appropriate to have a diplomatic visit to China in such a situation. She said spy balloons sailing over the US are clearly a violation of their sovereignty and international laws. It is unacceptable at any cost.
Blinken said he would think about his Beijing trip when conditions normalise. He stated they believe that it is essential to have open lines of communication.
President Joe Biden Refused to Comment on the Matter
During an interview at an economic event, President Biden refused to talk about the Chinese Balloon sailing over the US. On the other hand, 2024 reelection challengers Donald Trump and Nikki Haley stated that the US should shoot down the balloon.
Sen. Eric Schmitt, R-Mo, said that we should stop the spy balloon, as it had headed towards Whiteman air force base, the home of the stealth bomber, which is absolutely unbelievable, and no American is going to accept that.
However, Ryder said there is no confirmation regarding shooting down the balloon as it does not pose any threat yet.