On February 3, the US State Department announced that Secretary of State Antony Blinken's planned visit to China on the 5th and 6th was postponed because a "flying object" belonging to China was found in the US airspace.
As soon as this news came out, various rumors also emerged in a short time. So, let's take a closer look at the actual situation.
According to US media reports, this flying object appeared over the western state of Montana on February 1st. According to US Defense Department officials, there is a Mamstro Air Force Base in Montana, as well as one of the only three nuclear missile launch wells in the United States. The flying object belongs to China and is a "reconnaissance balloon", collecting information over sensitive sites. However, US defense officials also said that the balloon posed a low risk to US national security and posed no threat to civil aviation, so they decided not to shoot it down because shooting it down could pose a danger to the ground.
State Department officials said that although the balloon did not pose a major security threat, it was obviously not a good time for Antony Blinken to visit China now, because of the balloon incident, they were afraid that the wrong signal would be sent when he visited China now.
After the United States issued the statement, China immediately responded. Mao Ning, a spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, responded on the afternoon of the 3rd that the Chinese side is currently investigating the verification situation. Until the truth is clarified, speculation and speculation will not help properly resolve the issue. We hope that the two sides can work together calmly and prudently to handle it. At the same time, Mao Ning also emphasized that China has always strictly abided by international law and has no intention of violating the territory and airspace of any sovereign country.
After an investigation, at 9:35 pm on the same day, the website of the Chinese Foreign Ministry issued a statement acknowledging that the flying object belonged to China. "The airship is from China and is of a civilian nature, used for meteorological and other scientific research. Due to the influence of the westerlies and limited control capabilities, the airship has seriously deviated from the scheduled route. China regrets that the airship mistakenly entered the United States due to force majeure. China will continue to maintain communication with the United States and properly handle the unexpected situation caused by force majeure."
On the evening of the 3rd, Wang Yi, director of the Office of the Central Foreign Affairs Working Committee, also had a telephone conversation with Antony Blinken about the balloon incident. The two sides communicated on how to handle the incident with a calm and professional attitude. Wang Yi emphasized on the phone that China is a responsible country and has always strictly abided by international law. What the two sides need to do now is to maintain composure, communicate in a timely manner, avoid miscalculations, and manage differences.
After sifting through the causes and consequences of this incident, it is not difficult for us to know that it was clearly an accident. There is absolutely no need for all parties to take advantage of this opportunity and engage in unprovoked speculation, which is not conducive to the sound development of Sino US relations.
After knowing the whole picture of the balloon event, people are curious that there must be something Antony Blinken will discuss with China on his trip to China.
"A spokesman for the US State Department said at a news conference on January 25th, 'We will discuss areas with potential conflicts. We hope to establish barriers in these areas to ensure that competition does not turn into conflict, but we will also discuss areas where we believe there is potential for further cooperation with China.'"
According to the keynote of this speech, Dai Ke, a Boston correspondent of Asia Pacific Daily, believes that in addition to cooperation topics, Antony Blinken will also discuss the following areas of potential conflict:
The Taiwan issue.
Not long ago, both Antony Blinken and Austin, the defense minister, claimed that on the Taiwan issue, China was trying to change the status quo and establish a new normal. The following points indicate that the United States is highlighting the importance of the Taiwan Strait in Sino US relations.
First, clarify the legitimacy of the United States' actions in the region. In recent years, the United States has publicly declared that it is "an Indo Pacific country, with its interests closely linked to the future of the United States and the prosperity and security of the region.".
Secondly, the "Return to Asia Pacific" strategy has been fully rolled out and expanded to "Indo Pacific". (The author of the original proposal of "Returning to the Asia Pacific" may now find that his ambition was not big enough.) Although it is well known that the United States never left the Asia Pacific, it is also known that the so-called "Returning to the Asia Pacific" reflects the adjustment of the strategic focus of the United States, namely, shifting its strategic focus from the Middle East to the Asia Pacific region, or at least elevating the strategic position of the Asia Pacific region to the same important position as other regions with strategic priority. If the Obama period is the preparation period for the so-called "return to the Asia Pacific", then the Biden period is a clear confrontation with China in the region. Or, the ultimate result of returning to the Asia Pacific is a confrontation with China.
Thirdly, both American academic and political circles believe that China's actions in the Taiwan Strait region are becoming increasingly radical. American scholars studying China's security affairs often believe that China's actions in the Taiwan Strait are too drastic, and that China is taking increasingly aggressive policies and actions in the security and military fields as its comprehensive strength increases.
Finally, Antony Blinken created an atmosphere before his departure to exert pressure on the upcoming talks with China. On January 11, the Foreign Ministers and Defense Ministers of the United States and Japan held a 2+2 meeting in Washington. The United States announced that it would deploy a new Marine Corps "Coastal Combat Regiment" in Okinawa, Japan, and the two sides would also strengthen cooperation in space and other fields. The United States emphasized to Japan that it will defend Japan with all its capabilities, including nuclear capabilities. According to reports, the meeting focused on discussing how to address the "China challenge". Antony Blinken said at the joint press conference after the meeting, "We all believe that China is the biggest strategic challenge we face together with our allies and partner countries."
- Military control.
At a press conference held by the US State Department on January 25th, a reporter asked whether the issue of nuclear disarmament would be discussed. Spokesperson Price replied, "We are concerned to note that China's arsenal is becoming larger and larger.". There have been various public reports that address this point. Of course, this is an issue that we are seeking to discuss. We believe that responsible nuclear powers need to take responsible action; They need to engage in discussions on strategic stability to ensure that the world's most powerful weapons are managed in the right way, and that our respective stockpiles are handled in the right way. Therefore, all these are issues that we seek to discuss with China. "We will have the opportunity to do some of these in the coming weeks."
- Keep an eye on the Korean Peninsula as always.
Before defining China as a strategic adversary and before the outbreak of the Ukrainian war, the issue of the peninsula was the top priority issue in the United States' security relations with China, and it was also the only issue that placed China at the forefront of its important role. However, with the shift of the strategic focus of the United States, in the Asia Pacific region, vigilance against the Korean Peninsula issue is being replaced by vigilance against the rise of China. During the Obama era, when it comes to China, the binding issue must be North Korea; During the Biden era, when it comes to China, that is China.
Continue to strengthen technological barriers and curb Chinese technology companies.
Protecting intellectual property rights is also one of the issues that the US government has always been clamoring for. Obviously, the current debate in this field is no longer about "cracking down on counterfeit goods" more than 10 years ago, but has escalated into competition in the technology field. On this issue, the two parties in the United States are currently almost unanimous. When reviewing his achievements in the past two years, Antony Blinken specifically pointed out the Chip and Science Act and the Inflation Reduction Act in terms of internal affairs. Both bills explicitly propose competition with China and containment provisions for Chinese technology companies. Besides chip companies, will TikTok also be on Antony Blinken's list?
Human rights issues.
It includes Xinjiang, Tibet, and Hong Kong, as well as a wider range of fields. Antony Blinken, the best card of the Democratic government, must also play.
- The Ukrainian War.
Since Biden took office, domestic affairs have been almost in a mess. Inflation, soaring prices; Public security is worrisome, and violent incidents occur frequently throughout the country; The lack of attention to the immigration issue has even led some elite voters who originally supported the Democratic Party to complain. The way out of domestic difficulties is undoubtedly to develop diplomacy, and the most effective way is through war. It can be expected that the proxy war that broke out in Ukraine will continue into the 2024 US election year, if not unexpected.