The US warns China of further “unacceptable” airspace violations

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has warned his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi that the recent incursion into US airspace by a high-altitude balloon is an “unacceptable violation” and must “never happen again”.

The top US diplomat issued the warning when the two met on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference on Saturday evening. It was the first meeting between senior American and Chinese officials since the US shot down a surveillance balloon hovering over the country earlier this month.

Blinken told Wang that the presence of what Washington has described as a high-altitude surveillance balloon in US airspace constitutes an “unacceptable violation of US sovereignty and international law,” telling him that “the irresponsible act must never happen again.” “, according to a spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

China’s high-altitude surveillance balloon program has entered the airspace of more than 40 countries on five continents, the foreign ministry said.

The US suspects the balloon, which flew over the US and Canada for a week, was used for surveillance – something Beijing has denied.

Blinken added that the US “is not looking for a new Cold War,” the State Department said.

Earlier in the day, Wang used a speech at the Munich conference – attended by senior officials from around the world – to slam Washington for what he described as a “hysterical and absurd” US decision to shoot down the balloon.

“Around the world there are many balloons from many countries. Do you want to shoot every one of them?” he said. “It didn’t show that the US is strong. On the contrary, it showed the opposite. We urge the US not to do such absurd things to divert attention from its domestic problems.”

Western officials now believe the balloon may have deviated from its intended course.

Biden said Friday he wanted to speak to Chinese President Xi Jinping to “get to the bottom of the matter” without specifying a timing. The US warns China of further “unacceptable” airspace violations

Adam Bradshaw

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