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Chinese spy balloon episode to have consequences on US-China bilateral ties: Report

Hong Kong: The Chinese spy balloon episode will have far-reaching consequences on US-China bilateral ties. This can be seen in the postponement of US Secretary of State Antony Blinken's visit to China, The Hong Kong Post reported.
Blinken was earlier supposed to go on an official visit to China from February 5-6. According to The Hong Kong Post, if China does not work toward repairing the relations, the balloon episode may even endanger the meeting between President Joe Biden and President Xi Jinping that is being planned in Indonesia this November.
China has more to lose because of the balloon incident because the country has been trying to put a friendlier face before the world as it seeks to expand its role in the international community. At the latest Davos meeting of the World Economic Forum too, China said it would continue its process of liberalization and opening up even further.
The US recently shot down the Chinese balloon which the Chinese Communist Party said is a communications set-up and which the Americans have already declared a spy in the air at 60,000 feet.
As the Washington Post wrote of the affair: "...in arguably one of the most dramatic incidents in years involving the United States and China, it was an unmanned balloon, bobbing along on a meandering stratospheric path across the US mainland, that set the proverbial cat among the pigeons."
According to The Hong Kong Post, after tracking the Chinese balloon, which by the way is as big as three buses, in American airspace and a week after the Americans first identified it transited over an Alaskan archipelago, an F-22 Raptor jet fired a missile at the balloon, destroying it.
China described the balloon as a communications assistant and put up a determined face, saying it would give a befitting reply to the Americans.
The Americans say they have no doubt it is a Chinese intelligence asset. After it was shot down, the debris dropped into the ocean. Only if it is retrieved would the real identity of the balloon be known, according to The Hong Kong Post.
According to scientists, balloons are better spies than low-orbit satellites because they can linger over locations and extract sharper pictures and videos of areas surveyed.
According to a Pentagon official, the Chinese balloon could hover longer over collection targets like the ICBM field in Montana that was overflown a few days ago, but they're not stationary, and their signals-collection ability isn't radically different from other systems available to the Chinese.
Meanwhile, China has rejected Washington's request for a telephone call between US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin and his Beijing counterpart Wei Fenghe, The New York Times reported citing Pentagon. The request was made on Saturday soon after a US fighter aircraft shot down a suspected Chinese spy balloon off the coast of South Carolina. (ANI)

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