U.S. Secretary of State Blinken postpones high-stakes trip to China after U.S. discovers suspected spy balloon

U.S. Secretary of State Blinken attends the Freedom of Expression Roundtable, in New York, U.S., September 19, 2022. 

Craig Ruttle | Reuters

WASHINGTON –U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken will postpone his trip to China next week following a suspected Beijing-operated spy balloon looming over parts of Montana, Bloomberg reports.

Blinken was slated to visit Beijing next week to meet his Chinese counterpart Qin Gang, as well as possibly Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Earlier on Friday, Chinese authorities said that the balloon operating over U.S. airspace was a civilian weather balloon intended for scientific research.

China’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement that westerly winds had caused the airship to stray into U.S. territory, describing the incident as a result of “force majeure” — or greater force — for which it was not responsible.

“The airship comes from China and is of a civilian nature, used for scientific research such as meteorology,” according to a Google translation of a statement on the foreign ministry’s website.

This story is developing. Please check back for updates.

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