US reaction to balloon incident ‘hysterical’, says China

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

China‘s top diplomat accused the United States of violating international norms with “hysterical” behaviour, as a running spat over a suspected Chinese spy balloon bubbled to the fore at a global security conference in Munich.

Wang Yi was speaking on the second day of the annual Munich Security Conference, which this year had so far been dominated by the global response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine as the war grinds towards its second year.

US Vice President Kamala Harris later shot back, saying she was troubled that China had deepened its relationship with Russia since the invasion and that Chinese support to Russia would undermine the rules-based international order.

The spat over the balloon - which flew over the United States and Canada before being shot down on President Joe Biden’s orders, hit already strained relations and at a time when the West is closely watching Beijing’s response to the Ukraine war.

“To have dispatched an advanced fighter jet to shoot down a balloon with a missile, such behaviour is unbelievable, almost hysterical,” said Wang.

“There are so many balloons all over the world, and various countries have them, so is the United States going to shoot all of them down?,” he said.

“We ask the US to show its sincerity and correct its mistakes, face up and resolve this incident, which has damaged Sino-U.S. relations.”

The balloon spat had prompted Mr Blinken to postpone a planned visit to Beijing. Three other objects were shot down over North America last week.

On its part, Washington is hoping to put a “floor” under relations that hit a dangerous low in August with China‘s reaction to a visit to Taiwan by then-US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.