BREAKING: Montana Balloon Incident Forces Secretary of State Antony Blinken to Cancel China Trip Hours Before Leaving

Drew Angerer/Pool via AP

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken was set to head to China today as part of diplomatic efforts between the United States and China, but that trip was suddenly canceled after the discovery of what the Chinese are calling a “civilian research” balloon flying over Montana – and what the Pentagon believes may be a spying instrument from the Chinese government.


According to the Washington Post, the Biden administration is apparently taking this incident seriously.

President Biden postponed his top diplomat’s first official trip to China on Friday in response to the Pentagon’s discovery of an alleged Chinese spy balloon flying over the continental United States, said a U.S. official familiar with the matter.

The decision came just hours before Secretary of State Antony Blinken was scheduled to depart for Beijing in a dramatic indication of how seriously the Biden administration takes the incident and wants to avoid appearing soft on China.

The State Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

There appears to be division among the foreign affairs wing of the United States as to how the Biden administration should be handling this issue.

Christopher B. Johnstone, a former White House aide handling East Asia issues and a former CIA officer, expressed surprise that the administration would postpone the trip over the incident, and said it reflects the gloomy mood inside the administration over the direction of the relationship.

“There’s all this hopeful happy talk outside of government about the US and China restoring guardrails,” he said.” But there’s clearly deep pessimism inside the government about how far they can get if they’re willing to pull down this visit over a balloon.”

Laurence Pfeiffer, a former White House official and CIA chief of staff said the administration would be rewarding Chinese bad behavior if Blinken went ahead with the trip. “The Republicans would eat them alive.”


Most officials, however, remain skeptical of the claim that this is little more than a weather balloon, and that this may be what the Post described as a “novel” way of gathering intelligence – but it’s nonetheless an attempt by the Chinese government to engage in spying on America.


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