Anthony Blinken postpones his visit to China, Beijing “regrets” “involuntary” entry of machine on

The American diplomacy chief announced the cancellation of his visit scheduled for this weekend a few hours after the incident was reported. Beijing promises to manage “as it is suitable for this unexpected situation relating to a case of force majeure”.

MO12345LEMONDE with AP, AFP and Reuters

The United States was quick to react. Following the detection of a Chinese spy ball in the air space of the United States, the Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, decided, Friday, February 3, to postpone his visit to China, however scheduled for this weekend- end, said an American official.

Beijing, for its part, declared “regrett [er]” the “involuntary” violation of American airspace by a “civil aircraft [without pilot] used for research purposes, mainly meteorological”, in a press release released during the day by the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

“Assigned by westerlies [West Winds] and with a limited self-direction capacity, the aircraft has deflected far from its planned trajectory,” said a spokesman for the ministry. Which adds: “The Chinese part will continue to communicate with the American part and will manage as it is suitable for this unexpected situation relating to a case of force majeure.”

new blow to Sino-American relations already tense

The decision taken by Mr. Blinken was communicated just a few hours before the head of American diplomacy left Washington for Beijing. The latter did not want the subject of the ball to dominate its meetings with Chinese officials, the ABC News channel reported. But this announcement represents a new blow to relations already tense between the United States and China.

The long-awaited meetings of Mr. Blinken with senior Chinese officials planned during this trip, which was organized in November by the President of the United States, Joe Biden, and the President of the People’s Republic of China, XI Jinping, at an Indonesia summit, had to start on Sunday and continue until Monday. They were considered in the two countries as a means of finding understanding fields in a context of major disagreements on Taiwan, human rights, China’s demands in the southern China Sea, North Korea, The invasion of Ukraine PA Russia, trade policy and climate change.

sensitive sites overflown

According to American officials, the Pentagon has been watching this Chinese spy ball at high altitude over the United States for a few days. The latter was reported in Montana, where one of the country’s three nuclear missile silos is located.

“We take measures to protect ourselves against sensitive information collection,” said a senior American defense official, who was expressed under the cover of anonymity on Thursday. He insisted on “the limited added value in terms of information collection” of the machine described as a ball of a fairly large dimension. “We considered that it was large enough for the debris to cause damage” if it was shot in an inhabited area, he explained.

Pentagon spokesperson Pat Ryder, then said that the aerospace defense command of the United States and Canada (Norad) monitored the movements of the balloon, which does not have a “military or physical risk For people on the ground “. “Clearly, this ball is intended for surveillance, and its current trajectory brings it above sensitive sites,” continued the first American official.

For its part, the Ministry of National Defense of Canada said on Friday in a statement, that “Canadians are safe”. “Canada takes action to ensure the safety of its airspace, including monitoring a second potential incident,” said the text.

/Media reports cited above.