Munich Security Conference: U.S. Responds to Chinese Spy Balloon Invasion

At the outset of his first bilateral meeting with his Chinese counterpart, Secretary of State Antony Blinken criticized Beijing for sending a surveillance balloon over American territory.

Blinken tweeted about his meeting with Wang Yi, the top diplomat for the People’s Republic of China, off to the side of the Munich Security Conference. Blinken criticized the PRC surveillance balloon’s intrusion; he was harsh in his criticism, saying it could never happen again.

Blinken warned China against providing material aid to Russia and accentuated the importance of keeping open lines of communication.

According to Blinken, Wang, the state councilor and director of Beijing’s Central Foreign Affairs Office did not apologize for the Chinese balloon incident.

He saw it as a chance to speak openly and frankly about China’s violation of American sovereignty and international law by putting a surveillance balloon over U.S. soil.

According to Blinken, he informed Wang that such behavior is entirely unacceptable and must never occur again.

Since the surveillance balloon episode caused outrage in the United States and caused Blinken to postpone a scheduled visit to Beijing, this encounter was the first face-to-face engagement between the two sides. 

The administration had hoped that the trip, which was the first by a U.S. Secretary of State to China in five years following then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s travel to Taiwan, would help mend fences between the two countries.

The State Department’s spokesman, Ned Price, released a statement saying that Blinken made it clear that the United States will not endure any violation of American sovereignty and that the PRC’s high-altitude surveillance balloon program, which was intruded into the air space of over 40 countries across five continents, is now public knowledge.

In light of North Korea’s destabilizing test of an intercontinental ballistic missile on Saturday, Blinken reportedly underlined the necessity for responsible nations to respond to such serious world problems.

Concerns are growing that the Chinese regime may invade the self-governing island, but Blinken emphasized that the United States’ position toward China has not changed. He also called for peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.

According to a quote from an unnamed Washington diplomat, Beijing had insisted that the United States take the initiative in setting up the meeting. The report claims that Blinken submitted a request to China before boarding the Thursday trip to Munich but that he had heard nothing back.

Wang had ratcheted up pressure on Washington at the Munich conference before the meeting, echoing the regime’s accusations that the U.S. decision to have a fighter plane shoot down the balloon in U.S. airspace was ludicrous, bordering on irrational. He insisted the United States make amends for its transgressions as proof of its good faith.

Blinken left his Munich hotel for an undisclosed location hours after Wang’s comments, disregarding a shouted query from a reporter about if he was going to meet with Wang as he entered his vehicle in the hotel garage.

Earlier this month, the Biden administration said that the Chinese balloon that hovered for nearly a week over U.S. airspace was part of a global surveillance program that impacts more than 40 countries, including some of Washington’s closest allies and partners.

Nonetheless, President Biden and administration officials have emphasized that they value open lines of communication and are not actively seeking confrontations. 

At a press conference on February 16th, President Biden said he intends to meet with Chinese President Xi and hopes the two will investigate the matter, adding that he is not sorry for deflating the balloon.

Price claims that during the discussion with Wang, Blinken echoed Biden’s assertions that the United States will compete and will unabashedly stand up for its principles and interests but that it does not seek conflict with the PRC or a new Cold War.

As Price mentioned, the Secretary emphasized the value of constant communication and diplomatic efforts.

In response to questions from the media about the meeting, the State Department referred them to the statement issued afterward.