During a global security conference held in Munich, Germany, on Saturday, United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken and China’s top diplomat, Wang Yi, had a rare meeting where Blinken warned him against providing lethal aid to the Russian invasion of Ukraine at country level. Additionally, the Secretary of State criticized the violation of U.S. airspace by a suspected Chinese spying balloon. Previously, Wang had accused Washington of being hysterical about the downing of the alleged spy balloon.
During his meeting with China’s top diplomat, Wang Yi, US Secretary of State Blinken cautioned against any assistance from China that could help Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Blinken denounced the intrusion of an alleged Chinese spy balloon into US airspace.#Blinken #WangYi pic.twitter.com/EDbvYOYgPW
— News Live (@NewsLiveFree) February 20, 2023
The meeting between the two senior officials indicates that the U.S. and China may be willing to communicate with each other, despite the existing tensions between the two nations. In addition, the relationship between China and the U.S. has been tense since Washington accused Beijing of flying a spy balloon over its territory, leading to the balloon being shot down on the orders of President Joe Biden. Despite their differences, the two officials engaged in discussions during the meeting, highlighting the need for the two countries to dialogue to resolve their disputes.
The dispute occurred when the West closely monitored the Chinese response to the Ukraine conflict. Blinken expressed his concern about Beijing’s potential to offer lethal assistance to Russia during an interview to be broadcast on NBC News‘ “Meet the Press with Chuck Todd” on Sunday. Blinken noted that he warned China’s top diplomat, Yi, about the possible ramifications of such a move, which could seriously affect their relationship.
U.S. Seeks to Contribute to Peace and Stability
A senior official from the State Department, who spoke to reporters in a briefing call, accused China of wanting to “have it both ways” by claiming that it seeks to contribute to peace and stability while simultaneously taking “concerning” actions to support Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
A senior official from the State Department, who spoke anonymously, revealed that U.S. Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, was forthright in warning China about the outcomes and impact of providing material assistance to Russia or aiding it with systematic sanctions evasion. The official stated that Blinken was explicit about the ramifications of such actions. The State Department official noted that China’s actions could significantly affect the US-China relationship.
China’s Response to the Ukraine Conflict Raises Concerns in the West
Russia and China formed an unrestricted partnership in February last year, shortly before Russian troops invaded Ukraine. Their economic ties have since flourished as Moscow’s links with the West have deteriorated. The West has been cautious about China’s response to the Ukraine conflict, with some experts warning that a Russian victory could affect China’s actions towards Taiwan. China has avoided criticizing or labelling the war as an invasion. During a panel discussion at the conference, Wang Yi reiterated his appeal for dialogue and recommended that European nations take a measured approach to ending the war.
The absence of strong condemnation from China regarding Russia’s aggression in Ukraine has led some to question China’s position on the matter. Wang Yi did not specify whom he was referring to when he mentioned “certain forces” that seemed to impede negotiations’ success or prolong the war. During a panel discussion at the conference, he stated that some parties were not interested in the talks succeeding or for the war to end anytime soon.
Antony Blinken, in his discussion with Wang Yi, condemned the alleged incursion by a Chinese surveillance balloon over U.S. territory, stressing that such an event must never occur again, according to a tweet by the Secretary of State. The balloon’s flight earlier this month caused a stir in Washington and postponed Blinken’s planned visit to Beijing. This scheduled visit, which was supposed to take place on February 5-6, would have been the first trip by a U.S. Secretary of State to China in five years. Both sides deemed it as an opportunity to stabilize their increasingly strained relationship.
Following the U.S. military downing of the 60-meter balloon on February 4, China voiced its anger, claiming that the balloon was intended to monitor weather patterns and deviated from its intended course. During his NBC interview, Antony Blinken stated that Wang Yi did not apologize for the surveillance balloon’s incursion. Blinken disapproved of the event, noting that it was unacceptable for China to have violated U.S. airspace. However, he did not mention rescheduling his trip to China with Wang.
On the other hand, the U.S. contended that the balloon was clearly a surveillance device equipped with significant electronics. According to China’s state news agency, Xinhua, Wang Yi expressed his belief that Washington’s response to the balloon had negatively impacted the relationship between the U.S. and China. Wang conveyed China’s position on the matter, stating that the incident involving the balloon was unacceptable, and he called on the U.S. to modify its approach, admit to the harm caused by the excessive use of force, and take corrective actions to restore the bilateral relationship.
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