A much-anticipated meeting between the top diplomats from the U.S. and China over the weekend appeared to do little to clear the tensions over the shooting down of a suspected Chinese surveillance balloon and may have added new strains to the bilateral relationship.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken again chided Beijing over the balloon incident as an “unacceptable” violation of U.S. sovereignty in an hourlong meeting Saturday with Chinese counterpart Wang Yi on the sidelines of a major security conference in Munich, Germany.
“I made very clear to him that China sending its surveillance balloon over the United States … must never happen again,” Mr. Blinken said Saturday in an interview for CBS’ “Face the Nation.”
For his part, Mr. Wang, the senior foreign policy official for the ruling Chinese Communist Party, insisted the balloon was a civilian craft not engaged in espionage and said Washington was “overreacting” as a way to add new strains to the relationship.
“The actions don’t show that the U.S. is big and strong, but describe the exact opposite,” Mr. Wang said in an address to the conference. “… There are so many balloons all over the world, so is the United States going to shoot all of them down?”
While the balloon has grabbed the world’s attention, Mr. Blinken noted that he also warned Mr. Wang in their meeting about deepening Chinese support for Russia in its war with Ukraine.
China has offered rhetorical support and continued to buy Russian oil and gas in the face of international sanctions, but Mr. Blinken said there are fears China may cross a line and begin sending weapons and other military aid to the Kremlin.
“The concern that we have now is, based on information we have, that they’re considering providing lethal support,” Mr. Blinken said on CBS’ “Face the Nation” in an interview recorded Saturday. “And we’ve made very clear to them that that could cause a serious problem for us and in our relationship.”