US Secretary of State Tony Blinken on Friday said the first task at their disposal is to ensure that the Chinese surveillance balloon which is hovering over its sky is out of its territory, as he defended his decision to postpone his planned trip to Beijing.
“Job one is getting it out of our airspace. We continue to believe that having open lines of communication is important. Indeed, this incident only underscores the importance, and that's why we will maintain them. That's why, when conditions permit, I plan to go to China. But the most important thing right now is to see that this surveillance asset gets out of our airspace, and we'll take it from there,” Blinken told reporters at a news conference here.
At the joint news conference with the visiting South Korean Foreign Minister Park Jin, Blinken said it was very important to emphasize that the presence of this surveillance balloon over the United States skies was a clear violation of its sovereignty, international law, and clearly unacceptable.
“We have made that clear to China. Any country that has its airspace violated in this way I think would respond similarly. And I can only imagine what the reaction would be in China if they were on the other end,” he said. “What this has done is created the conditions that undermine the purpose of the trip, including ongoing efforts to build a floor under the relationship and to address a broad range of issues that are of concern to the American people, I believe to the Chinese people, and certainly as well to people around the world,” Blinken said.
“China's decision to fly a surveillance balloon over the continental United States is both unacceptable and irresponsible.
That's what this is about. It's a violation of our sovereignty, it's a violation of international law. And it was very important that we of course take the actions we did to protect any sensitive information, to protect our people, and to make clear to China that again this is an unacceptable as well as irresponsible action,” he said in response to another question.
“It's even more irresponsible coming on the eve of a long planned visit that followed from the meeting between the two presidents in Bali on the margins of the G-20. In our judgment, it created conditions that undermined the very purpose of the trip, including ongoing efforts, as I said, to build a floor under the relationship as well as to address a very broad range of issues that are important to Americans, to Chinese, to the entire world,” he said.
Blinken said the world expects the United States and China to manage their relationship responsibly. “And indeed, addressing many of today's global challenges, challenges that affect the lives of our people and people around the world, demands that we find a way to work together as well. The United States will continue to act in a way that reflects that responsibility,” he said. “We look to our PRC counterparts to do the same,” he observed.
Blinken reiterated that the US is confident this is a Chinese surveillance balloon. “Once we detected the balloon, the US government acted immediately to protect against the collection of sensitive information. We communicated with the PRC government directly through multiple channels about this issue,” he said. “Members of my team consulted with our partners in other agencies and in Congress. We also engaged our close allies and partners to inform them of the presence of the surveillance balloon in our airspace. We concluded that conditions were not conducive for a constructive visit at this time,” he said..