On Friday, State Department spokesman Ned Price reported that U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken told chief Chinese diplomat Wang Yi by phone that he is willing to travel to China when conditions permit.
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According to the spokesman, the U.S. Secretary of State reaffirmed Washington's diplomatic commitment to the chief Chinese diplomat. Blinken "stressed that the U.S. is diplomatically engaged and seeks to maintain open lines of communication, and that he would be willing to visit Beijing as soon as conditions permit," Price said.
Blinken was scheduled to arrive in Beijing this weekend, but he postponed his trip because he discovered a Chinese hot air balloon flying over U.S. territory. The Pentagon claims it is for surveillance.
According to press reports, the U.S. State Department has ruled out shooting down the balloon in view of the risks posed by the wreckage to people on the ground.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry regretted that the balloon was over U.S. territory and claimed the wind blew it off course. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken will postpone his scheduled visit to Beijing in the coming days due to the Chinese balloon.
The balloon was detected by Washington about two days ago. Pentagon spokesman Pat Ryder said the U.S. and Canadian Aerospace Defense Command (Norad) monitored its trajectory.
"The balloon is currently flying at an altitude well above commercial air traffic. It poses no military or a physical threat to those on the ground," said Ryder, who added that "it is intended for surveillance and its current trajectory takes it over sensitive sites."
The Chinese Foreign Ministry has said that the U.S. claims about the spy balloon are "being verified." "Until the facts are clear, making conjectures and exaggerating the issue will not help to resolve it properly," Mao Ning, Foreign Ministry spokesman, told a regular briefing.