China scoffs at Biden’s no apology jibe over spy balloon shooting; says cannot ask for talks while fuelling tensions

Beijing, 17 Feb: China on Friday sharply reacted to US President Joe Biden’s remarks defending his orders to shoot down a Chinese spy balloon and his assertion to “remain in communication” with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping, saying that Washington cannot ask for talks while fuelling tensions and escalating the crisis.
By shooting down the Chinese spy balloon, Biden said the US has sent “a clear message that the violation of our sovereignty was unacceptable. We’ll act to protect our country and we did.”
In his remarks at the White House on Thursday, his first one after a Chinese spy balloon was shot down in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of South Carolina on February 4, Biden said he expects to speak with his Chinese counterpart Xi on the issue that has increased the tensions between the US and China.
“And I hope we are going to get to the bottom of this, but I make no apologies for taking down that balloon,” he said.
Responding to Biden’s remarks at a press briefing in Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said he has no information on the likelihood of Biden-Xi talks as of now.
Wang said that “the unintended entry of Chinese airship into US airspace is an isolated unexpected event but it is also a test to the US sincerity and capability to properly manage crisis to stabilise relations with China and sincerity to improve relations with China”.
“The US cannot ask for communication and dialogue fuelling tensions and escalating the crisis,” he said, adding that he has no information on the likelihood of Biden-Xi talks.
He said the US needs to work with China in the same direction and manage differences.
“The US needs to work with China in the same direction, manage differences and properly handle the unexpected isolated incidents, avoid miscalculation and misunderstanding and bring the relations to the sound steady track of development,” Wang said.
Biden said he expected to speak with Xi again, citing the importance of keeping US-China channels open to avoid veering “into conflict”.
He did not specify when the two presidents planned to speak next.
Biden said he waited to shoot down the balloon on February 4 a week after it was detected in American airspace to avoid jeopardising commercial flights or people on the ground. He said its flight path ensured that it did not threaten national security, the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post reported.
“We seek competition, not conflict with China,” he told reporters, echoing sentiments conveyed last week in his State of the Union speech.
“We will compete and will responsibly manage that competition so that it doesn’t veer into conflict. This episode underscores the importance of maintaining open lines of communication between our diplomats and our military professionals,” he said. AP