China’s top diplomat Wang Yi held an informal meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Munich on Saturday.
Wang took the opportunity of their first in-person meeting since the spy balloon incident to lecture Blinken about President Joe Biden’s “hysterical” response to the balloon, while Blinken told Wang that China’s surveillance balloon flights are an “unacceptable violation of U.S. sovereignty and international law.”
Wang met with Blinken on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference (MSC), which prides itself on offering “protected space for informal meetings between officials” in addition to its formal agenda and roster of invited speakers. The MSC hopes that such meetings can defuse international tensions by creating opportunities for informal diplomacy.
Blinken said he “condemned the incursion of the PRC [People’s Republic of China] surveillance balloon and stressed it must never happen again.”
After the meeting, Blinken expressed disappointment that Beijing did not agree to a direct dialogue between the U.S. and Chinese militaries during the balloon incident.
“He stated, candidly stated, our disappointment that in this recent period that our Chinese military counterparts had refused to pick up the phone. We think that’s unfortunate. And that is not the way that our two sides ought to be conducting business,” a senior State Department official said on Sunday.
China’s readout of the meeting was very different from the State Department’s. According to Chinese state media, Wang laid all of the blame for the balloon incident on the “absurd and hysterical” reaction of the Biden administration, denounced the destruction of the balloon as an “abuse of the use of force,” and told Blinken that his government would have to repair the “damage” it has caused to U.S.-China relations.
China’s state-run Global Times on Sunday hailed Wang’s statesmanship for his willingness to meet with Blinken and lay out what the Biden administration must do to clean up its mess – hinted to be a laundry list of geopolitical and economic concessions from Washington that go far beyond apologizing and promising not to shoot down any more Chinese spy balloons.