US President Joe Biden confirmed on Tuesday that the United States will not allow China to intimidate it, but at the same time, stressed that Washington does not seek conflict with Beijing, after the incident of the Chinese balloon flying over American territory before being struck down.
“Don’t get us wrong: As we demonstrated so clearly last week, if China threatens our sovereignty, we will act to protect our country and we have,” Biden said in his State of the Union address. In response to these statements, China confirmed on Wednesday that it would “resolutely defend” its interests, calling on the United States to work to restore relations between them.
“We will resolutely defend China’s sovereignty, security and development interests,” said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Mao Ning in a press conference, calling on the United States to “work with China to propel Sino-US relations on the via of a healthy and stable development”.
On Saturday, the US military shot down a Chinese balloon off the coast of South Carolina, which the Pentagon considered espionage and was aimed at gathering sensitive information. But Beijing confirmed that it was a civilian balloon, primarily intended to collect weather data.
On the other hand, in his speech before the House of Representatives and the Senate, Biden harshly criticized the Republican opposition, who accused him of having waited too long, considering it a sign of the “weakness” of his administration in the face of Beijing. He said the United States today “is in the strongest position in decades to compete with China or anywhere else in the world.” And he believed that “winning the competition with China must unite us all,” while underlining his determination to “work with China where it can serve American interests and benefit the entire world.”
“I made it very clear to (Chinese President) Xi Jinping that we seek competition, not conflict,” he said, repeatedly referring to the semiconductor manufacturing battle. in which the United States lost its dominant position to China. Biden did not dwell on foreign policy issues in his speech, which lasted just over an hour, during which he mentioned US support for Ukraine. Addressing the Ukrainian ambassador in Washington, Oksana Markarova, who was present, she said: “We will stand by you whatever it takes. Our nation is working for more freedom, dignity and pace (…) not only in Europe but everywhere.”
However, he did not mention other issues such as Iran, North Korea or even the earthquake that hit Turkey and Syria on Monday.
Beijing rejects the Pentagon’s invitation
The Chinese government said on Monday that the United States had “gravely affected and damaged” relations between the two countries by shooting down the balloon. The incident prompted US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken to postpone a last-minute visit to the Chinese capital over the weekend aimed at easing tensions between the two main strategic rivals.
In an indication of the tension, the Pentagon revealed on Tuesday that Beijing had rejected a US proposal to hold a telephone conversation between US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and his Chinese counterpart, Wei Fenghe. “After implementing the decision to shoot down the Communist Party of China balloon on Saturday, February 4, the Department of Defense (US) filed a request for a secure call between Secretary Austin and Chinese Defense Minister Wei Fenghe,” he said Pentagon spokesman Pat Ridder. “Contacts between our military are important, above all in moments like this, and unfortunately the Communist Party of China rejected our request,” he added. On Monday, the US military announced that it had begun salvaging the first pieces of the wreckage of the Chinese airship.
The Pentagon said the balloon itself was about 60 meters high and was carrying a basket weighing more than a ton that had yet to be recovered. US officials stressed that the decision to wait before shooting it provided “a huge opportunity for better understanding and studio” of the vehicle
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