The US reached an agreement with Chinese President Xi Jinping to keep the country’s lines of communication open, but the spy craft incident earlier this year derailed the effort, President Biden said.
Biden made the statement during a news conference in Hiroshima, Japan, where he was there for talks with other G-7 countries on Sunday. Biden admitted that China’s ballooning has temporarily halted opportunities for open dialogue between Washington and Beijing. The president said he remains hopeful that talks will reopen in the near future.
“How do you handle diplomatic relations with China?” a reporter asked in the early morning briefing.
“Well, number one, you’re right. We should have an open line [of communications]. With the Bali conference that’s what President Xi and I agreed to do and meet,” Biden replied. “And then this stupid balloon carrying two free cars worth of spy equipment flew in United States, and it was closed and changed in terms of communicating with each other.”
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“I think you’ll see that again soon at least,” he added.
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Secretary of State Antony Blinken is set to meet his Chinese counterpart just days after Chinese spying entered US airspace in early February. Blinken quickly canceled the meeting, and Biden finally ordered the craft to be shot down.
The Chinese balloon, however, is allowed to fly over the entire continental United States, only being brought to the coast of North Carolina.
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Tensions between the US and China have increased throughout Biden’s presidency, but especially in the past 12 months. China intensified its aggression towards Taiwan after former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited the island in August 2022.
That scene was played out again as early as 2023 when Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen traveled to the US and met with current House Speaker Kevin McCarthy.
On both occasions, China deployed a large military presence and surrounded Taiwan in live-fire exercises in an apparent simulation of an invasion.
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Biden framed the conflict with China as one that will determine whether the world operates under democratic or authoritarian principles in the coming century. However, he said China is a “competitor” to be outdone rather than an enemy to be defeated.