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Blinken: Other nations 'appreciate' US exposing Chinese spy balloons

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in an interview broadcast Sunday that many countries “appreciate” the U.S. for exposing Chinese surveillance balloons.

During an appearance on ABC’s “This Week,” Blinken told host Martha Raddatz that the U.S. was not the only country to be targeted and that the Chinese balloons have flown over more than 40 other countries.

“This program’s been around for a few years,” he said. “So, there’s been a real concern I’m hearing here from other countries from allies and partners alike about this program.”

Blinken added that other countries “appreciate” that the U.S. had “exposed” the balloons.

Blinken’s comments come after his first face-to-face meeting with China’s state councilor, Wang Yi, since the Chinese balloon was shot down off the Carolinas. Blinken said the two “had a very direct, very clear conversation about the Chinese surveillance balloon being sent over our territory in violation of our sovereignty, in violation of international law.”

Blinken also said that he told the state councilor at the meeting, which took place on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference, that the action was “unacceptable and must never happen again.”

“It was important for me to underscore the importance of having open lines of communication between us in continuing to engage in direct diplomacy. We have a responsibility to manage the relationship responsibly,” he said. “I think the world expects that of us.”

Blinken was initially set to leave for a trip to Beijing in early February as part of an extensively planned visit coming after President Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping met at the Group of 20 summit in November. However, Blinken’s trip was postponed over the “unacceptable” surveillance balloon.

Last weekend, three more high-flying objects were shot down by the U.S. military, which the president has maintained were likely connected to a private company or research institution.

“We don’t yet know exactly what these three objects were, but nothing right now suggests they were related to China’s spy balloon program or that they were surveillance vehicles from any other country,” Biden said in prepared remarks from the White House last week. 

Source: The Hill

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