Biden says US-China relations have not been damaged by spy balloon incident

AP Photo/Susan Walsh
President Biden talks with reporters on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Monday, Jan. 30, 2023, after returning from an event in Baltimore on infrastructure.

President Biden on Wednesday said he does not believe the U.S. shooting down a Chinese surveillance balloon will negatively impact relations between the two countries.

When asked in an interview with PBS NewsHour if relations have taken a hit, Biden flatly responded, “No.”

Biden said he has not spoken to Chinese President Xi Jinping since it was reported that a Chinese balloon was hovering over the U.S. and the balloon was subsequently shot down over the weekend.

“But, look, I mean, the idea shooting down a balloon that’s gathering information over America and that makes relations worse?” Biden said, casting doubt on the idea.

“Look, I made it real clear to Xi Jinping that we’re going to compete fully with China, but we’re not looking for conflict. And that’s been the case so far,” Biden added.

The president added that his Chinese counterpart has “enormous problems” to deal with domestically, including an economy that is not flourishing and questions over whether Beijing supports Russia in its invasion of Ukraine.

Biden made brief mention of China during his State of the Union address on Tuesday, indirectly referencing the balloon incident.

“As we made clear last week, if China’s threatens our sovereignty, we will act to protect our country. And we did,” Biden said.

In response, China said Wednesday it was smeared in the address, with a Foreign Ministry official saying the country is “opposed to defining the entire China-U.S. relationship in terms of competition.”

Biden has faced criticism from some Republicans for allowing the balloon to traverse much of the U.S. last week before the military finally shot it down near the coast of South Carolina. Biden has made clear and reiterated on Wednesday that he wanted to wait until it was safe to shoot down the balloon so that any debris did not damage property or endanger people.

Tags Biden Xi Jinping

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