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Amid balloon row, Blinken confirms postponement of planned China visit

Washington: US Secretary of State Antony Blinken confirmed that he is postponing his trip this weekend to China after the Chinese surveillance balloon was detected in the US region.
Addressing the news conference in Washington, Biden said, "I spoke this morning with director of China's foreign affairs office Wang Yi to convey that in light of China's unacceptable action, I am postponing my plan of travel this weekend to China as you know President Biden and Xi agreed during their meetings in Bali in November that I would travel to Beijing." Blinken said that it was 'detrimental' to discussions that officials planned to have during his visit. He added that the US and China will continue to keep lines of communication open, including addressing the balloon row.
While responding to a query regarding the surveillance balloon, Blinken said, "It's very important to emphasize that the presence of this surveillance balloon over the US in our skies is a clear violation of international law and clearly unacceptable. And we've made it clear to China. And what this has done s 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 for both the countries and the world."
"So we took the step that I announced earlier today in postponing the planned visit for this weekend meanwhile, we are going to remain engaged with the PRC as this ongoing issue is resolved," he added.
He further said that once the US detected the balloon, the American government acted immediately to protect against the collection of sensitive information.
The US has communicated with the PRC (People's Republic of China) government directly through multiple channels about this issue. Members of the State Department consulted with partners in other agencies, and in Congress. The US also engaged with close allies and partners to inform them of the presence of the surveillance balloon in our airspace, he added.
Blinken said he told the Director of the CCP Central Foreign Affairs Office, Wang Yi, on Friday morning that the balloon flight was an "irresponsible act" and a "clear violation of US sovereignty" and international law.
He said he plans to visit Beijing "when conditions allow". "The world expects the United States and China to manage our relationship responsibly," he said, adding, "The United States will continue to act in a way that reflects that responsibility. We look to our PRC counterparts to do the same".
Earlier, Pentagon spokesperson Brigadier General Pat Ryder rejected China's claim and said they are certain that it is a 'surveillance balloon', adding that they had violated America's airspace and international law, which is 'unacceptable'.
In the press briefing, he also said that the Aerospace Defence is monitoring the suspected Chinese surveillance balloon 'closely'.
"The balloon continues to move eastward and is over the center of the continental US. Again, we currently assess that the balloon does not present a military or physical threat to people on the ground at this time, and we'll continue to monitor and review options," he added.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry said the balloon in the US is a civilian airship used for research, mainly meteorological.
"The airship is from China. It is a civilian airship used for research, mainly meteorological, purposes. Affected by the Westerlies and with limited self-steering capability, the airship deviated far from its planned course," China's Foreign Ministry said in a statement on the unintended entry of a Chinese unmanned airship into US Airspace. (ANI)

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