China urges calm after U.S. shoots down suspected spy balloon

The US and China have one

“What I want to emphasize regarding this unexpected accident is that both sides, especially the US, should remain calm,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Mao Ning said.

Aly Song | Reuters

BEIJING – Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Mao Ning urged both sides to remain calm after the US said it had shot down a so-called Chinese spy balloon.

“What I want to stress about this unexpected accident is that both sides, especially the US, should remain calm,” Mao said, according to a Mandarin translation of CNBC.

She was speaking at the first of the ministry’s daily press briefings after US Secretary of State Antony Blinken indefinitely postponed his trip to Beijing following news that a suspected Chinese surveillance balloon was flying over the United States.

Blinken was originally scheduled to visit Beijing on Sunday and Monday, although the US had offered few official details and the Chinese side never confirmed the trip. The US military shot down the balloon over the weekend.

China has dubbed the balloon a “civilian UAV” and said it was mainly conducting weather research before going off course.

Stressing the random nature of the balloon’s trajectory, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Mao said China has lost control of other such vehicles, according to her question-and-answer session with reporters on Monday.

When asked who or what type of company made the balloon, Mao declined to share details.

Majority Leader Chuck Schumer “revealed that we know China was trying to maneuver the balloon to get it out of the United States as soon as possible,” according to a Senate Democrat press release on Sunday.

When asked to confirm that detail, Mao said China’s communications with the US “always work hard to handle things responsibly.”

She again said the event was fortuitous but will test the US on how to deal with crises and stabilize US-China relations. Mao reiterated China’s calls for “mutual respect, peaceful coexistence and win-win cooperation” in bilateral ties.

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Plans for Blinken to visit Beijing were announced in November after Chinese President Xi Jinping and US President Joe Biden met for the first time during the Biden administration.

News of the meeting and expectations that Blinken would visit Beijing raised hopes for more stability in strained US-China relations.

Ahead of Blinken’s visit, US State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters Thursday that one goal of the high-level talks with Beijing is “responsible management” of the world’s “most consequential” bilateral relationship. Such talks, he added, are intended to ensure that “competition does not turn into conflict.”