In a new interview, President Joe Biden said the recovered Chinese spy balloon that crossed the continental US did not harm bilateral relations.
“Shooting down a balloon gathering information over America and worsening relations?” After his second State of the Union address, Biden told PBS NewsHour’s, Judy Woodruff.
“I told Xi Jinping we’ll compete with China but not fight. So far.”
Biden’s response is the second time he’s tried to downplay Beijing’s “brazen” act of sending an intelligence balloon across several US states with signs it loitered over key military installations this week.
Since the balloon was spotted last week, Biden has not spoken to the Chinese leader. However, his administration officials maintained contact with Chinese counterparts.
US officials protested to Chinese officials during the balloon flight. Senior administration officials said they communicated with Chinese officials after the balloon was shot down.
Due to the balloon incursion, Secretary of State Antony Blinken postponed a high-stakes trip to Beijing, undermining Biden’s first meeting with Xi in November. Blink en’s follow-up visit to China was intended to deescalate tensions between the two powers that had been rising during Biden’s first weeks in office.
The meeting was postponed, according to Biden administration officials. That date is undetermined.
Biden laughed off CNN’s question this week about why China would commit such an overt act. “The Chinese government,” he said.
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Biden administration officials claim they were able to mitigate the balloon’s intelligence collection capacity quickly and will benefit from the ability to collect information about the balloon and Chinese intelligence capabilities during its flight and recovery from the Atlantic Ocean.
The event’s political upheaval continues.
House Majority Leader Steve Scalise’s office announced Thursday’s vote on a resolution “condemning the Chinese Communist Party’s use of a high-altitude surveillance balloon over United States territory as a brazen violation of United States sovereignty.”
On Sunday’s “State of the Union,” Sen. Marco Rubio called Biden’s delay in telling Americans about the balloon a “dereliction of duty.”
a strange & bizarre night pic.twitter.com/Nt2qAl9Kjg
— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) February 8, 2023
“The idea that it was a dereliction of duty is bizarre,” Biden told Woodruff.
“China knows our deal,” he said.
However, the president appeared to question China’s strength in a fragile economic environment.
“His economy isn’t working,” Biden said.
He also shared a telling observation with Xi last year as US officials warned China not to support Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
“Everyone assumed China would join Russia in Ukraine. They’re not in, “Biden said. “I called him this summer to say, “Look what happened to Russia,” not a threat. McDonald’s to Exxon, 600 American companies have left Russia. I replied, “You’ve told me you need a relationship with the US and Europe, so they invest in China.” Who will invest in China if you do the same deal? It’s quiet there.”
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