Joe Biden says he will speak to China's Xi Jinping about balloon incident

Joe Biden says he will speak to China’s Xi Jinping about balloon incident

In his most comprehensive statements regarding the Chinese balloon and three unexplained objects downed by US jets, Joe Biden did not announce when he would speak with Xi, but said the US will continue to engage China diplomatically on the subject.

President Joe Biden said on Thursday that he intends to speak with China’s President Xi Jinping over what the US claims was a Chinese surveillance balloon shot down by a US fighter jet earlier this month as it transited the US.

“We are not looking for a new cold war,” Biden said.

In his most comprehensive statements regarding the Chinese balloon and three unexplained objects downed by US jets, Biden did not announce when he would speak with Xi, but he did say the US will continue to engage China diplomatically on the subject.

“I expect to be speaking with President Xi.” “I hope we are going to get to the bottom of this, but I make no apologies for taking down that balloon,” Biden said in response to complaints from Beijing.

Additionally, according to the Financial Times, the Pentagon’s senior China officer, Michael Chase, is to visit Taiwan in the coming days. Chase would be the highest-ranking American defence official to visit the island since 2019. China claims the democratically administered island as its own, while the United States has maintained a noncommittal stance for decades.

After the speech, Biden told NBC News: “I think the last thing that Xi wants is to fundamentally rip the relationship with the United States and with me.”

China claims the shot-down 200-foot (60-meter) balloon was for weather monitoring, but Washington claims it was plainly a surveillance balloon with a large undercarriage housing electronics.

Biden, who had previously made few public remarks regarding the series of flying items that began with the discovery of the Chinese balloon, broke his silence when U.S. senators sought more information about the episodes, which have perplexed many Americans.

He stated that the US intelligence community was still attempting to discover more about the three unidentified objects: one shot down over Alaska, another over Canada, and a third that crashed into Lake Huron. According to the government, the objects were shot down because they presented a hazard to civil aviation.

“We don’t yet know exactly what these three objects were, but nothing right now suggests they were related to the Chinese spy balloon programme or that they were surveillance vehicles from any other country,” Biden said.

The intelligence community believes the objects were “most likely balloons tied to private companies, recreation, or research institutions,” Biden said.

Biden speculated that they were discovered because radar was increased in reaction to the Chinese balloon.

“That’s why I’ve directed my team to come back to me with sharper rules for how we will deal with these unidentified objects moving forward, distinguishing between those that are likely to pose safety and security risks that necessitate action and those that do not,” he said.

The conclusions of the administration’s evaluation of how to deal with unexplained objects in the future would be classified and shared with relevant members of Congress, according to Biden. “These parameters will remain classified so we don’t give a road map to our enemies to try to evade our defenses,” he said.

Biden’s comments came after reports that the Chinese balloon, which crashed on Feb. 4 after crossing the mainland United States, had a trajectory that would have taken it over Guam and Hawaii but was blown off course by prevailing winds.

The event forced US Secretary of State Antony Blinken to cancel a planned February visit to Beijing, where both sides expected to endeavour to improve already strained relations.

Blinken’s attendance at the Munich Security Conference this weekend has fueled speculation that he will meet China’s top diplomat, Wang Yi, there.

The balloon was shot down by the US military off the coast of South Carolina. US politicians have chastised the government for allowing it to wander across the country at first, even near vital military sites.

When asked about Biden’s statements ahead of time, a Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson referred to the fallen balloon as an “unmanned civilian airship” and claimed its flight into US territory was an “isolated” event.

The United States “should be willing to meet China in the middle, manage differences, and appropriately handle isolated, unexpected incidents to avoid misunderstandings and misjudgments; and promote the return of U.S.-China relations to a healthy and stable development track,” spokesman Wang Wenbin said at a regular press conference.

Washington informed dozens of nations of what it described as a worldwide Chinese spying effort, and six Chinese businesses were placed on an export blacklist.

In its latest sanctions against U.S. companies, Beijing warned of “countermeasures against relevant U.S. entities that undermine China’s sovereignty and security” and on Thursday placed Lockheed Martin Corp (LMT.N) and a unit of Raytheon Technologies Corp (RTX.N) on a “unreliable entities list” over arms sales to Taiwan, barring them from imports and exports related to China.