China’s top diplomat on Saturday accused the United States of violating international norms with “hysterical” behavior, as a running spat over a suspected Chinese spy balloon bubbled to the fore at a global security conference in Munich.
Hours after the comments, which further weighed on the already strained U.S.-China relationship, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken left his hotel in Munich for an undisclosed location amid expectations of a meeting with Wang.
The State Department declined to say whether the top U.S. diplomat was holding talks with his Chinese counterpart. When asked earlier by a Reuters reporter on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference about the possibility of a meeting with Blinken, Wang smiled and declined comment.
As Blinken entered his vehicle at the garage of his hotel, he did not answer a shouted question from a reporter asking whether he was going to meet with Wang, pool footage from CNN showed.
The spat over the balloon – which flew over the United States and Canada before being shot down on President Joe Biden’s orders, hit bilateral relations and at a time when the West is closely watching Beijing’s response to the Ukraine war.
“To have dispatched an advanced fighter jet to shoot down a balloon with a missile, such behavior is unbelievable, almost hysterical,” said Wang.
“There are so many balloons all over the world, and various countries have them, so is the United States going to shoot all of them down?” he said.
“We ask the U.S. to show its sincerity and correct its mistakes, face up and resolve this incident, which has damaged Sino-U.S. relations.”
The balloon spat had prompted Blinken to postpone a planned visit to Beijing. That Feb. 5-6 trip would have been the first by a U.S. secretary of state to China in five years and was seen by both sides as an opportunity to stabilize ties.
For its part, Washington has been hoping to put a “floor” under relations that hit a dangerous low in August with China’s reaction to a visit to Taiwan by then-U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Speaking earlier at the Munich conference, U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris said she was troubled that China had deepened its relationship with Russia since Moscow’s Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine, and she said Chinese support to Russia would undermine the rules-based international order.
Copyright 2022 Thomson/Reuters