Top China diplomat mocks US response to China balloon as ‘hysterical’

China’s Director of the Office of the Central Foreign Affairs Commission Wang Yi speaks at the Munich Security Conference in Munich, Saturday, Feb. 18, 2023. The 59th Munich Security Conference (MSC) is taking place from Feb. 17 to Feb. 19, 2023 at the Bayerischer Hof Hotel in Munich. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)

A top Chinese diplomat mocked the response from President Biden and the United States to the Chinese spy balloon that was shot down over the Atlantic Ocean earlier this month, saying on Saturday that it was “hysterical.” 

Wang Yi, the director of the Office of the Central Foreign Affairs Committee, reiterated at the annual Munich Security Conference that the balloon was an unmanned civilian airship that had limited self-steering capability that veered off course because of wind. 

He said China asked the U.S. to handle the balloon “calmly and professionally,” but the U.S. “disregards these facts.” The Biden administration has rejected Chinese assertions that the balloon was intended to conduct meteorological research, instead concluding that the balloon was designed for surveillance. 

“This is, I would say, absurd and hysterical,” Wang said. 

He claimed that the U.S. abused its use of force and violated international customary practice. 

Wang argued that many balloons fly throughout the world, asking the U.S. officials: “Do you want to down every one of them?” 

Shooting down the balloon shows U.S. weakness instead of strength, he said, adding that the U.S. should be more sincere in its approach to China and reverse the negative effect that the incident has had on the relationship between the two countries.

The incident has raised tensions between the two sides in recent weeks, with Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin’s Chinese counterpart refusing a phone call from him as the balloon was traveling across the U.S. 

Wang’s comments came ahead of the first face-to-face meeting between the two nations since the incident occurred.

Blinken was scheduled to visit Beijing earlier this month, but chose to postpone the trip in light of the balloon.

Tags Joe Biden Lloyd Austin U.S.-China relations Wang Yi Wang Yi

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