The incident confirms the fears of most Western countries. About China’s power ambitions, an expert said.
It appeared to float peacefully over American airspace until it was shot down. But the suspected use of a spy balloon on land has sparked a diplomatic row. And experts say it has damaged efforts to repair relations between the US and China.
“This incident is incredibly embarrassing for Beijing. It reinforces concerns that most Western countries rightly harbor. About China’s great power ambitions,” Craig Singleton. Senior China fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. A Washington, D.C. Think tank, told TTN News on Saturday.
He added that Secretary of State Anthony Blinken’s decision. To indefinitely suspend a visit to China on Friday scored a “huge publicity win” for Beijing. “in essence indicating that America has sent its top envoy to China. And not another roundabout way.”
Blinken, who was scheduled to leave Washington for Beijing on Monday. Said he told senior Chinese diplomat Wang Yi in a phone call Friday. That sending balloons over the United States was “an irresponsible act. And (China) decided to take this action. On the eve of my visit, we Harmful to the substantive discussion I was prepared to have.
” Blinken will be the first visit to China by a US Secretary of State since 2018.
Now “Chinese officials find themselves in damage control mode,” Singleton said. First spotted over Montana, which is home. To one of America’s three nuclear missile silo fields. At Malmstrom Air Force Base, the giant white orb. About the size of three school buses, headed southeast at 60,000 feet over Kansas and Missouri.
Describing it as a “high-altitude surveillance balloon,” Pentagon spokesman Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder said Thursday that “the government acted immediately to protect. Against the collection of sensitive information.” Asked why the United States did not launch the balloon, Ryder said the government ruled. It out because of the “potential for destruction. And property damage” to people and structures on the ground.
White House press secretary Karin Jean-Pierre told reporters Friday. That the United States had been tracking the balloon since at least Tuesday. When President Joe Biden was first briefed.
Biden said Saturday that the U.S. would “take care of it.” And U.S. officials later said it had landed off the coast of South Carolina.
At that time, curiosity about it spread to the nation. Blurry videos have been posted on social media and “Where is the spy balloon now?” And “spy balloon tracker” trended on Google.
China’s foreign ministry acknowledged in a statement. On Friday that the balloon was indeed theirs. But insisted it was “a civilian plane used for research. Mainly for meteorological purposes”.
In a separate statement on Saturday, it said that Wang Yi had spoken with Blinken. And they had “communicated on how to deal with accidental incidents. In a calm and professional manner.”
The Pentagon said it had spotted. Another Chinese surveillance balloon flying over Latin America. The readout came without giving further details about its location. Chinese media outlets have also dismissed claims. That the balloon was used for espionage. while netizens have also scoffed at the claim. On social media.
“It has nothing to do with military surveillance or surveillance.” A retired senior colonel in the Chinese army. And now a senior fellow at the Center for International Security. And Strategy think tank told TTN News on Saturday.
“It was an accident, and we apologize for it. And I see no reason why the US government shouldn’t believe it, except to make a political use of it. So, it should end,” he added. Zhao Minhao, a professor at the Institute of International Studies. At Fudan University in Shanghai, said China’s foreign ministry would make extensive. Preparations for Blinken’s visit.
“From the point of view of China’s top leadership. They did not want to disrupt the process of easing relations. With the United States. Because this year is a very important year for revitalizing. China’s economy,” he told The Washington Post. There is no point in sabotaging China’s process.
David Sachs, a research fellow on US-China relations. And security at the Council on Foreign Relations. Agreed that economic talks would likely be high on the agenda.
“China is strategically pushing for a thaw. In US-China relations in the near term, as it deals with a Covid outbreak. And economic slowdown. And pushes its more aggressive foreign policy across the region,” he said.
He added that the balloon’s presence was likely a “bureaucratic mistake” at a time. When the Chinese military was vulnerable. And not a high-level move by President Xi Jinping. To weaken the United States on the eve of Blinken’s visit.