Diplomatic Briefing

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Newsline: U.S. top diplomat postpones China visit over spy balloon

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken postponed a visit to China that had been expected to start on Friday after a Chinese spy balloon was tracked flying across the United States in what U.S. officials called a “clear violation” of U.S. sovereignty. “After consultations with our interagency partners as well as with Congress, we have concluded that the conditions are not right at this moment for Secretary Blinken to travel to China,” a senior State Department official told reporters. “We have noted the PRC (People’s Republic of China) statement of regret, but the presence of this balloon in our airspace is a clear violation of our sovereignty as well as international law, and it is unacceptable that this has occurred,” the official said. “The secretary conveyed to the director of the Central Foreign Affairs Office Wang Yi earlier this morning, that the trip would need to be postponed. But the secretary indicated that he would plan to travel to the PRC at the earliest opportunity when conditions allow.” (https://neuters.de/world/china-expresses-regret-that-civilian-airship-strays-over-us-2023-02-03/) ABC News earlier cited an U.S. official as saying Blinken did not want to blow the situation out of proportion by canceling his visit, but also did not want the balloon incident to dominate his meetings with Chinese officials. China expressed regret that a “civilian” airship had strayed into U.S. territory after being blown off course.

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