Secretary of State Antony Blinken will not be making his planned trip to China on Sunday due to a diplomatic spat over a Chinese balloon hovering in U.S. airspace, ABC News first reported Friday.
Blinken was set to travel to Beijing on Sunday to meet with top Chinese Communist Party officials to discuss issues ranging from climate change to human rights and Russia’s war in Ukraine. The Pentagon, however, announced late Thursday it was tracking the presence of a suspected Chinese spy balloon flying over “sensitive” sites in the U.S.
Scoop: The Biden administration has decided to postpone Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s upcoming trip to Beijing after detecting a Chinese surveillance balloon that was lingering at high altitude over sensitive nuclear sites in Montana, according two officials.
— Peter Martin (@PeterMartin_PCM) February 3, 2023
Now, that trip will reportedly be postponed to a later date. The State Department has not given any timetable for rescheduling the trip.
As of Friday morning, the balloon was still hovering over Montana, the state that houses much of the United States’ nuclear weapons arsenal.
CCP officials denied that the aircraft was a state spy balloon, instead insisting that it is a civilian craft used for weather research. American officials feel otherwise, and have summoned a top Chinese diplomat over the issue. (RELATED: Trump Responds To Pentagon Identifying Suspected Chinese Surveillance Balloon Flying Over US)
Blinken would’ve been the first top-level U.S. diplomat to visit China in five years.