China blasts ‘spy balloon’ hype, urges communication to avoid misjudgment
Published: Feb 04, 2023 09:54 AM Updated: Feb 04, 2023 06:03 PM
Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi (left) and US Secretary of State Blinken.

Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi (left) and US Secretary of State Blinken.

China has blasted the hype of a balloon incident, saying China does not accept any groundless speculation or hype and opposes the practice of certain politicians and media in the US who use the incident to attack China even though China has explained clearly the balloon spotted in the US is a civilian airship designed for meteorological research purpose and made the unintended entry due to force majeure.

China's foreign ministry also suggested that neither China nor the US has announced that there would be a visit by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken following news that Blinken has postponed his planned visit to China citing the balloon incident as an excuse.

The unexpected incident of the balloon gave some hawkish anti-China lawmakers a chance to attack China through the hype of "China spying" and "China threat", underscoring the increasing tensions between the world's two largest economies.

Chinese analysts called on US decision-makers to properly manage the anti-China sentiment fanned by some politicians out of selfish interest, and to demonstrate political leadership to better handle China-US relations.

"China is a responsible country and has always strictly abided by international law. We do not accept any groundless speculation and hype," Wang Yi, director of the Office of the Foreign Affairs Commission of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China said in a phone conversation with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken late Friday.

During the phone conversation, they communicated on how to deal with the incident in a calm and professional manner. Wang said in face of unexpected situations, both sides should maintain focus, communicate in a timely manner, avoid misjudgments, and manage differences.

Prior to Wang and Blinken's talk, State Department spokesman Ned Price said that Blinken has postponed his visit to China due to the balloon incident and Blinken would be prepared to visit Beijing "as soon as conditions allow."

Previous news on Blinken's visit to China on February 5 and 6 all came from the US. China has never confirmed the information.

China US

China US

A spokesperson of the Chinese Foreign Ministry confirmed on Friday a Chinese unmanned civilian airship used mainly for meteorological research purposes made an unintended entry into the US airspace due to force majeure and rejected the spy claim made by the US.

On Saturday, Chinese Foreign Ministry released a statement, saying that maintaining contact and communication at all levels is an important common understanding reached by the Chinese and US presidents at their meeting in Bali. One of the tasks of the diplomatic teams on both sides is to properly manage bilateral relations, particularly to manage unexpected situations in a cool-headed and prudent manner.

"In fact, neither side has ever announced that there would be a visit. It is a matter for the US to make its latest announcement, and we respect that," said the spokesperson from the Chinese Foreign Ministry.

Despite the explanation from China, some US media continued to use "spy balloon" and some politicians took the chance to either criticize the Biden administration for not being "sufficiently tough" on China or attempt to shift blame of canceling Blinken's trip to China - which China never confirmed - to the Chinese side.

Baseless speculation and continuous hype in the US cannot change the fact that this is an unexpected incident, which the Chinese side also expressed regret, Diao Daming, an expert on US studies and associate professor at Renmin University of China in Beijing, told the Global Times.

With so many interactions between China and the US in every field, those who determine to undermine the bilateral relations can find every possible excuses - if it is not the airship incident, it would be other matters, Diao said.

The expert noted that the clamor on so-called spy balloon showed that some anti-China hawkish, who are obsessed with Cold War competition and US hegemony, are doing whatever they can to sabotage China-US relations.

Even with no confirmation from China on Blinken's visit, the US media reported that Republicans on the House Foreign Affairs Committee encouraged Blinken to use "the trip" to send a tough message to China regarding the suspected spy balloon, the Washington Post reported.

Before being clear of the facts, the US military and media accused China of spying, and this balloon incident has taken US' hyping of the "China threat" to a new level, Chinese analysts said, saying the recent chaotic signals sent from the US on China may bring more uncertainty to already strained bilateral relations.

The fragmentation and polarization of the US domestic politics also reminded China to prepare itself for any eventualities - stressing cooperation and stabilizing the bilateral relations via communications; and at the same time, holding on to the bottom line and strike back against provocations, said Diao.

Analysts also called on American decision-makers to properly deal with irrational anti-China sentiment, which has been fanned by some politicians with selfish motives. The Biden administration should demonstrate true political leadership to handle relations with China for the benefits of the two peoples, instead of letting the balloon incident or other unexpected events impede the bilateral exchanges or making China-US relations the prey of inter-party dissension.