China says working to ‘verify’ reports it flew spy balloon over US

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China said Friday it was looking into reports that a Chinese spy balloon has been flying in US airspace and urged calm.

Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning also said she had no information about whether a planned trip to China by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken would proceed next week as scheduled.

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“China is a responsible country and has always strictly abided by international laws, and China has no intention to violate the territory and airspace of any sovereign countries. As for the balloon, as I’ve mentioned just now, we are looking into and verifying the situation and hope that both sides can handle this together calmly and carefully,” Mao said at a daily briefing.

Mao said that politicians and the public should withhold judgment “before we have a clear understanding of the facts.”

Blinken had been due to arrive in China on Friday, becoming the highest ranking member US official to visit since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

He would arrive amid a sharp downturn in relations between Beijing and Washington over trade, Taiwan, human rights and China’s territorial claims in the South China Sea.

“What I want to emphasize is that before we have a clear understanding of the facts, speculation and sensationalizing will be unhelpful to the proper handling of the issue. As for Blinken’s visit to China, I have no information,” Mao said.

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