China providing ‘lethal support’ to Russia will have 'serious consequences' on bilateral ties: Blinken

Blinken and Wang Yi held hour-long talks in Munich on Saturday at the backdrop of the recent spy balloon appearances over the US airspace

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken

NH Digital

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has warned China that providing "lethal support" for Russia’s war against Ukraine will have "serious consequences" on bilateral ties between the two countries and asserted Beijing’s balloon incursion "must never happen again."

Blinken and Wang Yi, the Chinese Communist Party’s senior-most foreign policy official, held hour-long talks in Munich on Saturday, at the backdrop of the recent spy balloon appearances over the US airspace.

According to the US State Department, they were attending an international security conference.

The two high-profile diplomats met in their first high-level contact since the US shot down an alleged "Chinese spy balloon" a fortnight ago.

“I made very clear to him that China sending a surveillance balloon over the US, in violation of our sovereignty, in violation of international law, was unacceptable, and must never happen again,” Blinken told CBS News in an interview.

His spokesman, Ned Price, said Blinken also told the Chinese diplomat that his nation’s “high-altitude surveillance balloon programme, which has intruded into the airspace of more than 40 countries across five continents, as exposed to the world.”

Earlier, Blinken postponed a crucial visit to Beijing for bilateral talks triggered by the spy balloon appearances that began early this month.

The February 5-6 trip would have been the first by a US secretary of state to China in five years and was seen by both countries as an opportunity to stabilise their strained ties.

During Saturday's meeting, Blinken also raised the Russia-Ukraine war with Wang.

“There were concerns that China was considering providing lethal support to Russia in its war against Ukraine. I was able to share with him, as President Biden had shared with President Xi, the serious consequences that would have for our relationship,” Blinken said.

He also underscored the importance of maintaining diplomatic dialogue and open lines of communication at all times.

“Finally, it was important for me to underscore that we believe having lines of communication, engaging in direct diplomacy, is very important. We have a responsibility to manage our relationship in a responsible manner,” he added.

The two diplomats could meet again in New Delhi next month on the sidelines of the G-20 Foreign Ministers meeting.

The meeting between the two senior officials came hours after Wang renewed Beijing's criticism of the US for shooting down what Washington says was a Chinese spy balloon, arguing at the conference in Germany that the move doesn't point to US strength.

“The actions don't show that the US is big and strong, but describe the exact opposite,” Wang explained.

“This is actually a political farce created by the US. We have categorically told them that this is a civilian unmanned airship. Due to the influence of the super westerly winds and its limited control ability, it deviated from the planned path and entered the skies over the US. We have asked them to work with China and handle it properly in a rational, calm and professional manner,” Xinhua news agency, quoted Wang as saying.

After delivering the keynote speech at the Munich Security Conference, Wang told the Chinese media that everyone is concerned about how the recent balloon incident has strained the Sino-US relations.

“Regrettably, the US ignored the basic facts and brazenly dispatched fighter planes to shoot down a non-threatening airship with missiles. This behaviour is unbelievable, almost hysterical, and a 100 per cent abuse of force, which clearly violates international conventions,” he added.

Wang urged Washington to show sincerity, correct its mistakes and resolve the damage caused to the Sino-US relations due to this incident.

With inputs from PTI

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