US authorities are awaiting a reaction after the US ended what it claims was an espionage flight and China claims was an errant weather balloon. China launching a retaliatory attack is one of the potential outcomes, according to the New York Times.
In Washington and Beijing this week, Secretary of State Antony Blinken informed Chinese authorities that the US had the right to use military force against the balloon. Blinken had postponed a trip to China due to the problem. Similar balloons from China and other countries have previously been seen, but this time, it seems that the unusually long period this one stayed over the US—five days—was the sticking point.
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Experts noted that efforts to enhance US-China relations have been hampered by the balloon situation. Craig Singleton of the Washington-based think tank Foundation for Defense of Democracies told NBC News on Saturday that this episode is extremely embarrassing for Beijing.
It confirms the legitimate fears that the majority of Western nations have regarding China’s aspirations to become a great power. He claimed that Blinken’s visit would have helped China’s government in its public relations efforts by “signaling that America has deployed its top envoy to China and not the other way around.” According to Singleton, China must now repair its damaged reputation abroad.
According to American diplomat Daniel Russel, Biden’s approach to relations with China, including the postponement of Blinken’s trip, is more motivated by the cost of a mistake, such as allowing a spy balloon to be spotted over the US, than by worry that the two countries will decide to start a full-out war. According to David Sacks of the Council on Foreign Relations, China made a “bureaucratic gaffe” with this, which is likely what it was.
According to Russel, Biden is most concerned about “some incident or accident that happens because the Chinese have a misunderstanding about the situation and, in many cases, a misconception about the United States,” as reported by the Washington Post.
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