“This must never happen again”: Blinken and a high ranking Chinese diplomat spoke of the knocked down ball

On the fringes of the security conference, the head of American diplomacy met with Wang Yi, the highest-ranking Chinese foreign politician.

By Le Figaro with AFP

Published 2/18/2023 at 9:35 PM, updated 2/18/2023 at 10:37 PM

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The head of American diplomacy Antony Blinken met on Saturday evening on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference with the Chinese Wang Yi, director of the central foreign ministry of the Chinese Communist Party and thus the country’s highest foreign policy official. The rare interview came as relations between the United States and China were strained after the US military shot down a Chinese balloon, a State Department spokesman said.

It comes after US President Joe Biden this week signaled his willingness to ease tensions between the two archrivals, even saying he was ready, despite the ball affair that has reignited tensions between Washington and Beijing, with the Chinese leader Xi Jinping to speak.

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An “open and frank” exchange

The meeting, held away from the media on the sidelines of the security conference in Munich, Germany, lasted about an hour and the exchanges were “frank and frank,” a senior State Department official also told reporters on condition of anonymity. Antony Blinken insisted to his counterpart that the Chinese balloon affair, which flew over American territory for several days before being shot down, was an “irresponsible act that must never happen again”.

The balloon incident forced Antony Blinken to postpone a rare trip to Beijing scheduled for early February to the end of February and reignited tensions between the two rival great powers. “The Secretary of State has made it clear to him that the United States will not tolerate any violation of its sovereignty and that China’s high-altitude surveillance balloon program has been exposed in the eyes of world public opinion,” the airline’s department said.

Strong charges against Washington

Earlier on Saturday, however, the chief of China’s diplomacy launched a vehement indictment of Washington, denouncing its “hysterical” reaction to the balloon flight and its economic “protectionism.” In front of an audience of international leaders and experts, Wang Yi wrote an indictment against the United States.

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First goal: the American reaction to the flight of a Chinese balloon over American territory, which was perceived as “absurd and hysterical”. This plane, a spy balloon according to Washington, a “civilian” object, Beijing assures, was shot down by a US Air Force plane on February 4.

“There are many balloons from different countries in the sky. wanna shoot them all down That doesn’t show that America is strong,” said Wang Yi on the podium. For this senior diplomat, “It’s 100 percent abuse of the use of force.” The diplomatic chief repeated that it was a simple weather research balloon that accidentally drifted into American airspace.

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“We urge the United States not to do such absurd things just to divert attention from its domestic problems,” Wang Yi warned. “We have asked the United States to handle this situation calmly and professionally,” he said. “Unfortunately, the United States ignores these facts and uses advanced warplanes to shoot down a balloon with their missiles, which I think is absurd and hysterical,” Wang Yi said.

” ALSO READ – Spy Balloon Breaks Deduction With United States Wanted by Xi Jinping

The head of Chinese diplomacy then spoke to Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi. “I said that if a balloon enters our country’s airspace without permission, it will be considered an intrusion, regardless of which country it comes from,” the Japanese minister said after the meeting.

Presenting his country as a champion of “peace,” a word repeated some thirty times, Wang Yi reiterated that Moscow and Kiev “should sit around the table and find a “political” way out of the conflict.” American Vice President Kamala Harris, who was also present in Munich, questioned China’s neutrality.

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The United States is “concerned that Beijing has deepened its ties with Moscow since the beginning of the war,” she said. “Any attempt by China to provide lethal support to Russia would only reward aggression, continue the killing and further undermine a rules-based order,” the vice president warned.

For their part, Europeans, particularly Germany and France, still hope to persuade China to pressure Russian President Vladimir Putin to end the war. Paris had estimated on Thursday that “the time had come for a reconnection” with China, where French President Emmanuel Macron would soon pay a visit.

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But there are many differences between Washington and Beijing: imbalance in trade relations, the situation in Hong Kong, America’s relationship with Taiwan, human rights and even technological rivalry. On this last point, Wang Yi continued his indictment, denouncing American restrictions on the export of electronic chips.

These restrictions are “100%” “protectionism”. They are “100 percent selfish, 100 percent one-sided” and “seriously violate the principle of free trade,” argued the head of Chinese diplomacy. NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg, also in Munich, urged Westerners on Saturday “not to make the same mistake with China” as they did with Russia, which has forged energy ties with Europe.