All news

US, China discuss downed balloon, White House not aware of plans for Biden-Xi call

National Security Council Coordinator for Strategic Communications John Kirby said that Washington and Beijing maintained routine diplomatic conversations

WASHINGTON, February 14. /TASS/. The US administration has discussed the situation around the downed Chinese weather balloon with Chinese officials, National Security Council Coordinator for Strategic Communications John Kirby told reporters at a regular briefing on Monday.

When asked if there was any effort to arrange a call between US President Joe Biden and Chinese leader Xi Jinping, Kirby said, "I’m not aware of any plans for that."

However, he argued, it "doesn’t mean — and people shouldn’t take away from this that all communication has been severed between the United States and China, that Beijing and Washington aren’t talking." "We still have an embassy there. We still have an ability through [US] Secretary [of State Antony] Blinken’s good offices to communicate with senior Chinese leaders," Kirby assured.

When asked if the situation has set back the relationship, he said, "It (this situation -TASS) has certainly not helped us move forward in the way that we wanted to move." He added that Washington and Beijing "maintained routine diplomatic conversations, and we have had in — over that spy balloon incident, we did have private discussions with senior Chinese leaders."

"Unfortunately, the Chinese military is not interested in talking to Secretary of Defense [Lloyd] Austin, but there are still ways to communicate," Kirby added.

In early February, authorities in the US identified a Chinese balloon at an altitude exceeding the norm for commercial flights. It posed no threat to people on the ground. On February 4, the US Air Force downed what the Pentagon said was a spy balloon collecting vital information in US air space. Blinken postponed his visit to China over the incident.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry expressed regret that the abnormal situation led to the weather balloon flying into US air space and said that it was ready to maintain communication with US officials to resolve the conflict.