Exclusive: Balloon incident could trigger wider conflict if not properly handled: Chinese diplomat
Published: Feb 09, 2023 06:15 PM

Chinese Ambassador to France Lu Shaye Photo:GT

Chinese Ambassador to France Lu Shaye Photo:GT

The balloon incident, occurred against the backdrop of a lack of trust between the US and China, should have been handled within the communication framework between the two sides without being exaggerated, the Chinese Ambassador to France Lu Shaye told the Global Times in an exclusive interview. If the incident is not properly managed, it could become a trigger of conflict, the Chinese envoy warned. 

"Such incident should have been managed through the communication between the two sides in a quiet way and without affecting the mutual trust, as similar matters happened often in the past and there's no need to exaggerate it," Lu Shaye, the Chinese Ambassador to France, told the Global Times on Wednesday night. 

Over the past few days, the US officials and media have continued hyping the "balloon incident," turning it into a "balloon episode" and using it to smear China. Despite China has repeatedly shared information on the unintended entry of an unmanned Chinese civilian airship into US airspace, the US not only went ahead to greenlight the use of force to take down the airship but has also continued hyping the incident, creating more obstacles for bilateral relations. 

The incident occurred against the backdrop that the two countries lacking mutual trust, Lu said. Recently, the US made a number of unfriendly moves toward China on military, high-tech control and especially on the Taiwan question, which damaged the atmosphere between the two countries. Also, the partisan conflict inside the US politics also limits the room for the Biden administration to handle the incident, the Chinese envoy said. 

The US has a contradictory attitude on this issue, and eventually "messed things up," turning it into an incident that will not help improve the bilateral ties, Lu said.

US State Department said recently that US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has postponed his visit to China due to the balloon incident. But previous news on Blinken's visit to China all came from US media. Neither side made any official announcement. 
"It also shows that the bilateral relations between the two countries have been freezing. The US said there should be guardrails set on the relations but we hope that the US side not to clash in recklessly and break through those guardrails," Lu said. "Under current circumstances, especially after the US took a series of anti-China moves, Blinken's potential visit won't have any effect."

The US side should cool down before holding further talks with China. Also, under such circumstances, I believe it's inevitable that there's has been no communication between the Chinese and US defense ministers, Lu said. 

Some Western media and observers believed that the balloon incident threatens to be a "watershed moment" in the world's new superpower rivalry. 

The Chinese envoy said if the incident is not properly managed, it could become a trigger point for a wider conflict. "I believe that we are very rational and have the strategic composure and confidence to handle it well. But the US needs to overcome its partisan conflict and interference and consider the matter from a point of view of safeguarding the common interests of humanity and the world peace, not just from the view of protecting its priority and hegemony," Lu said.