Diplomatic Briefing

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Archive for February 4, 2023

Newsline: China’s foreign ministry calls balloon flight force majeure accident

China’s foreign ministry said on Saturday that flight of a Chinese “airship” over the United States was a force majeure accident, accusing U.S. politicians and media of taking advantage of the situation to discredit China. (https://www.reuters.com/world/china/china-foreign-ministry-airship-over-us-force-majeure-accident-2023-02-04/) China’s foreign ministry has also accused American officials of excessively “hyping” the balloon flight. The United States, saying the craft was a suspected spy balloon that had committed a “clear violation” of U.S. sovereignty, postponed a visit to China by Secretary of State Antony Blinken that had been expected to start on Friday.

Newsline: Canada summons China’s ambassador over balloon incident

Canada summoned China’s ambassador after what Ottawa described as a high-altitude surveillance balloon was detected over North American airspace, a spokesperson for the Canadian foreign ministry said. (https://finance.yahoo.com/news/canada-summons-chinas-ambassador-over-144328239.html) “We will continue to vigorously express our position to Chinese officials through multiple channels,” the spokesperson said in an emailed statement.

Newsline: Embassy Attack Strains Iran-Azerbaijan Diplomatic Relations

The embassy attack led Azerbaijan to temporarily suspend its operations at its mission in Tehran and evacuate its staff from the country. A gunman stormed the Azerbaijani Embassy in Tehran on January 27, killing one guard and wounding two others. Iran said the attack was motivated by personal reasons, but Baku described it as a “terrorist attack.” Iranian media said the attacker, who was arrested, was an Iranian man married to an Azerbaijani woman. The attacker was quoted as saying that his wife disappeared after entering the Azerbaijani Embassy. (https://finance.yahoo.com/news/iran-azerbaijan-relations-under-stress-210000082.html) The incident has further strained relations between the neighbors, who have a history of tensions. Azerbaijan has long been suspicious of Iran’s ties with Armenia, Baku’s archenemy. Meanwhile, Tehran has increasingly expressed concern about Azerbaijan’s deepening relations with Israel, Tehran’s regional foe. Baku recently appointed its first-ever ambassador to Israel, which is a major arms supplier to Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan has also long complained of Iran’s alleged mistreatment of its sizable ethnic Azeri minority. Tehran has accused Baku of fomenting separatist sentiment in the Islamic republic.

China balloon undermines hopes for diplomatic thaw with U.S.

China’s high-altitude research balloon has caused a stir in international relations by undermining hopes for a diplomatic thaw with the United States. The political uproar over a suspected Chinese spy balloon drifting over the United States did not just derail a planned visit to Beijing by the top U.S. diplomat, it also threatens to upset attempts by both countries to steady an increasingly rocky relationship. The reaction in the United States to what appears to be an ill-timed spying mission will have lingering consequences for efforts to stabilize ties – already near historic lows. Some U.S. lawmakers are demanding that President Joe Biden, a Democrat, hold China to account for what officials are calling an unacceptable violation of U.S. sovereignty. (https://neuters.de/world/china-balloon-soaring-over-us-deflates-hopes-diplomatic-thaw-2023-02-04/) U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who postponed a trip that was to begin on Friday, said he would be prepared to visit Beijing “when conditions allow,” but the administration could be hard pressed to quickly revive the trip short of China offering up serious gestures of goodwill. The balloon, which is now among the world’s most-tracked objects, has been a source of tension between the two countries, as its presence has raised questions about China’s motives and intentions.