US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has warned China that its material support for Russia’s war against Ukraine would attract sanctions and condemned “unacceptable violation” of American sovereignty by an alleged Chinese spy balloon as he met Beijing’s top diplomat Wang Yi.
Blinken and Wang held talks on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference in Germany on Saturday.
“The secretary directly spoke to the unacceptable violation of US sovereignty and international law by the PRC high-altitude surveillance balloon in US territorial airspace, underscoring that this irresponsible act must never occur again,” state department spokesperson Ned Price said.
“During the meeting, Blinken made clear the United States will not stand for any violation of our sovereignty, and that the Chinese high-altitude surveillance balloon programme — which has intruded into the airspace of more than 40 countries across five continents — has been exposed to the world,” he said.
The relations between the US and China strained after Washington said Beijing flew a spy balloon over America before US fighter jets shot it down on President Joe Biden’s orders.
The balloon incident prompted Blinken to postpone a planned visit to Beijing. The February 5-6 trip would have been the first by a US secretary of state to China in five years and was seen by both countries as an opportunity to stabilise their strained ties.
The meeting between the two senior officials came hours after Wang on Saturday renewed Beijing’s criticism of the US for shooting down what Washington says was a Chinese spy balloon, arguing at the conference in Germany that the move doesn’t point to US strength.
“The actions don’t show that the US is big and strong, but describe the exact opposite,” Wang said.
Blinken also raised the Russia-Ukraine war during his meeting with Wang, the director of the office of the central commission for foreign affairs.
“On Russia’s brutal war against Ukraine, the Secretary warned about the implications and consequences if China provides material support to Russia or assistance with systemic sanctions evasion,” Price said.
Blinken also condemned the intercontinental ballistic missile test by North Korea as the latest destabilising act carried out by Pyongyang, and emphasised the need for responsible powers to respond to such significant international challenges.
During the meeting, Blinken reaffirmed there had been no change to the longstanding ‘One China’ policy of the US, and he underscored the importance of maintaining peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait, the spokesperson said.
“The secretary reiterated President Biden’s statements that the United States will compete and will unapologetically stand up for our values and interests, but that we do not want conflict with the PRC (People’s Republic of China) and are not looking for a new Cold War,” Price said.
Blinken underscored the importance of maintaining diplomatic dialogue and open lines of communication at all times, he said.
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