Blinken Warns China Against Providing Aid To Russia, Says Balloon Surveillance Must “Never Again Occur” As Beijing Slams “Excessive Use Of Force”, Offers “No Apology”

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In the aftermath of the recent Hullaballon fiasco, Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned China’s top diplomat on Saturday that the U.S. will not tolerate violations of its airspace after a Chinese spy balloon flew over North America, but received no apologies from Beijing.

According to Politico, Blinken met with Wang Yi, director of China’s Office of the Central Commission for Foreign Affairs, on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference in what was the administration’s first face-to-face meeting with the Chinese government since a balloon was discovered earlier this month and subsequently downed by the U.S. military off the coast of South Carolina.

According to a State Department readout of the meeting, Blinken “directly spoke to the unacceptable violation of U.S. sovereignty and international law” by the Chinese surveillance balloon “underscoring that this irresponsible act must never again occur.” Blinken later told NBC’s Chuck Todd in an interview after the meeting that Wang offered “no apology” for the incident.

Separately, Blinken also warned Beijing about “implications and consequences if China provides material support to Russia or assistance with systemic sanctions evasion,” as Moscow wages war against Ukraine. In the same NBC interview, Blinken said that he is “very concerned that China is considering providing lethal support to Russia in its aggression against Ukraine and I made clear that that would have serious consequences in our relationship.”

Blinken told Yi that the US had information China was considering whether to give Russia assistance, possibly including guns and weapons, for the war in Ukraine. The US has warned China since the start of the invasion a year ago not to do so.

“The concern that we have now is, based on information we have, that they’re considering providing lethal support,” Blinken told CBS’s “Face the Nation” shortly after he met with Wang. “And we’ve made very clear to them that that could cause a serious problem for us and in our relationship.”

In response, Wang slammed the Biden administration’s destruction of the balloon and urged the U.S. to “change course, acknowledge and repair the damage that its excessive use of force caused to China-U.S. relations,” according to a statement published by Chinese state media. The statement described the controversy as the “so-called airship incident” in an apparent effort to belittle the U.S. reaction that has included a widening bipartisan uproar about what both a House and a Senate resolution have declared was a “brazen violation” of U.S. sovereignty.

Earlier at the conference, Wang said China would release a new peace proposal for Ukraine in the coming days that would be in keeping with previous efforts by President Xi Jinping. He condemned attacks on nuclear power stations.

“We oppose attacks on nuclear power stations, attacks on civilian nuclear facilities,” Wang said. “We have to work to prevent nuclear proliferation and nuclear disasters.”

The initial response was cautious. German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock welcomed China’s idea but said “a just peace cannot mean that the aggressor gets rewarded.” As a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, “China is obliged to use its influence for global peace,” Baerbock said. A Russian troop withdrawal from Ukraine is a condition of any peace deal, she said. Amusingly, the geometrically challenged foreign minister also said that “If Putin decides that tomorrow he changes his course by 360 degrees, the whole world will be happy.”

Asked about Wang’s peace proposal, a US official who spoke to Bloomberg on condition of anonymity said that Beijing appears to be trying to publicly promote peace and stability while covertly supporting Russia’s aggression against its neighbor.

Despite several attempts by the media to describe recent developments as an easing of geopolitical tensions, the readouts suggest that neither side is ready to take steps to move beyond the spy balloon incident in order to steer bilateral ties toward a less-rancorous setting.

At the conference, Wang publicly slammed the U.S. response to the balloon – which Beijing insists was a weather monitoring device – as a “weak” and “near-hysterical” reaction; he also accused the U.S. of warmongering.

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