A Reconnaissance Balloon Spotted over the Continental U.S. and D.C. Cancels the Visit by Secretary Blinken
This special, short episode is outside the paywall.
On today's show Andrew and Bill reconvene for an emergency episode to share their reactions to the news that the Pentagon is tracking a Chinese reconnaissance balloon across the U.S., the statements coming from both the Pentagon and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the news that Secretary of State Anthony Blinken has canceled his trip to Beijing.
US readout of Blinken’s call with Wang Yi:
Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken spoke today with Director of the CCP Central Foreign Affairs Office Wang Yi to convey that he will not be traveling to the People’s Republic of China at this time in light of the current presence of a high-altitude PRC surveillance balloon in U.S. airspace. The Secretary relayed that he had planned to visit Beijing to follow up on the agenda agreed to by President Biden and President Xi in November in Bali. The Secretary noted the PRC’s statement of regret but conveyed that this is an irresponsible act and a clear violation of U.S. sovereignty and international law that undermined the purpose of the trip. The Secretary explained that in light of this ongoing issue, it would not be appropriate to visit Beijing at this time. He underscored that the United States is committed to diplomatic engagement and maintaining open lines of communication, and that he would be prepared to visit Beijing as soon as conditions allow.
Bloomberg with some details on the balloon surveillance program - High-Flying Balloon Seen as Part of Broader Chinese Spy Program:
The high-altitude balloon now floating at 60,000 feet over the continental US is part of a broader Chinese spying program that’s seen many such devices sent over the nation, including some during the Trump administration, according to US officials…
People familiar with the matter believe the balloon is maneuverable —because they’ve detected it changing course — and anticipate it will likely remain in US airspace for several more days. Nonetheless, they’ve decided not to try to shoot it down for now, arguing that the risk to the public of falling debris is too high as its payload is the size of several buses.
They flatly dismiss China’s claim that it’s a weather-monitoring vehicle given its size, previous Chinese espionage activity in the same vein, and private acknowledgment from Chinese officials of its true nature.