US FM now-cancelled visit to China never officially announced

TEHRAN, Feb. 04 (MNA) – Beijing has played down news about US Secretary of State Antony Blinken cancelling his planned trip to China amid the row over a wayward Chinese balloon spotted in United States airspace.

In a statement issued on Saturday morning, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said they respect the decision made by the US.

"In actuality, the US and China have never announced any visit, the US making any such announcement is their own business, and we respect that," the ministry said, Sputnik reported.

Blinken was originally expected to visit China on Sunday for talks that were supposed to help ease the tensions in relations between Washington and Beijing – relations that became rather strained after then-US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi made an official visit to Taiwan last year.

Blinken’s visit, however, ended up being scrapped after the US on Thursday announced the discovery of a Chinese high-altitude balloon moving through the US airspace and potentially monitoring sensitive sites such as ballistic missile silos.

Chinese diplomats argued that the balloon was merely a "civilian airship used for research," which had veered off its planned course due to winds and accidentally strayed into the US airspace.

The US military has so far appeared unwilling or perhaps unable to bring down the balloon amid concerns that falling debris might harm civilians on the ground.


News Code 197011


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