Secretary of State Antony Blinken has postponed a “high stakes” diplomatic visit to China following the discovery of a Chinese balloon flying over sensitive sites in the western United States.
According to the Associated Press, the trip was “abruptly” called off on Friday despite China’s claims that the mysterious balloon was a weather research satellite that veered off course. Blinken was supposed to leave Washington, D.C. and travel to Beijing on Friday.
As Matt covered Thursday evening, the Chinese spy balloon was flying over Malmstrom Air Force Base in Montana, one of three in the United States with Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICMBs). The Department of Defense reportedly considered shooting it down, but did not over concerns of the debris. As a result, U.S. officials began taking steps to “obscure” sensitive sites where the balloon appears to be hovering.
AP noted that the Chinese foreign ministry said that the balloon was a civilian airship used for meteorological research and that it has “limited self-steering capabilities.” It claimed that the balloon deviated from its intended trajectory because of winds.
“The Chinese side regrets the unintended entry of the airship into U.S. airspace due to force majeure,” the foreign ministry's statement said.
On Friday, Canadian national defense forces began monitoring the balloon over Montana, as well as a “potential second incident,” according to Fox News.
As Spencer covered, Republican members of Congress are demanding the Biden administration “stop coddling and appeasing the Chinese communists” and bring the balloon down.