Blinken meets China’s Wang Yi, warns China against helping Russia, first meeting after balloon controversy too
Agencies (Munich) – US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has warned China against providing “lethal support” for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and condemned the violation of United States airspace by an alleged Chinese spying balloon as he held rare talks with Beijing’s top diplomat, Wang Yi.
The meeting of the two senior officials happened late on Saturday on the sidelines of a global security conference in Munich, Germany, just hours after Wang scolded Washington as “hysterical” in a running dispute over the US’s downing of the suspected Chinese spy balloon.
On Feb. 2, U.S. officials confirmed a balloon they said belonged to China was spotted floating over Montana. While Chinese officials maintain that the balloon, which the U.S. shot down two days later, was intended for research, the Pentagon claims that China intended to use it for surveillance. The incident led Blinken to postpone a previously planned trip to Beijing.
In a U.S. summary of the meeting in Munich, Price said Blinken “directly spoke to the unacceptable violation of U.S. sovereignty and international law by the [People’s Republic of China] high-altitude surveillance balloon in U.S. territorial airspace, underscoring that this irresponsible act must never again occur.”
Blinken also discussed other ongoing affairs with Wang, according to Price, including discouraging China from supporting Russia in its ongoing war with Ukraine and condemning North Korea’s firing of a missile into the sea of Japan.
“The Secretary underscored the importance of maintaining diplomatic dialogue and open lines of communication at all times,” Price said.
In an interview with CBS news, Blinken said China was “considering providing lethal support to Russia” – a red line for Washington. Blinken said such a decision would have “serious consequences that would have for our relationship.”
This is not the first time the U.S. has suggested this. China has denied it intends to send weapons to Russia.
Chinese state-owned Xinhua News Agency reported the Blinken-Wang meeting was “requested by the U.S. side.” China Global TV Network (CGTN) said Wang made clear China’s “solemn position on the so-called airship incident in an informal conversation”, in a brief news report.
CGTN also said Wang “urged the U.S. side to change course, acknowledge and repair the damage that its excessive use of force caused to China-U.S. relations.”
Earlier on Saturday, Wang sharply rebuked the U.S. for downing the Chinese balloon, describing its actions as “absurd and hysterical.” The incident, he added in remarks at the conference, “doesn’t show American strength but the opposite.”
On Ukraine, he said China’s position “boils down to supporting talks for peace”, and to that end he said Beijing would put forward a proposal for a “political settlement” of the issue.
It’s too soon to tell how the meeting will impact relations between the U.S. and China. Earlier this week, Biden said he would speak with China’s leader Xi Jinping but would not apologize for shooting the balloon down.
In an interview with NBC (Chuck Todd) news he says, to share our very real concerns about China’s support for Russia in that war. And what we’ve seen in – over the past years is, of course, some political and rhetorical support, even some non-lethal support, but we are very concerned that China’s considering providing lethal support to Russia in its aggression against Ukraine.
And I made clear that that would have serious consequences in our relationship as well, something President Biden has shared directly with President Xi on several occasions. Finally, I underscored the importance of having direct lines of communication, the importance of continuing to engage in diplomacy between our countries. I think this is something that the world expects of us.
They expect us to manage this relationship responsibly. And so it was important that we had that opportunity this evening here in Munich.