Days after US fighter jets shot down a Chinese surveillance balloon, Secretary of State Antony Blinken alleged that Beijing not only "violated the sovereignty" of America but also of countries across five continents.
Addressing a joint press conference along with the visiting NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, Blinken said that the United States was not the only target of this broader programme which has violated the sovereignty of countries across five continents.
US urges China to manage engagements responsibly
"In our engagements, we are again hearing from our partners that the world expects China and the United States to manage our relationship responsibly. That’s precisely what we've set out to do. We continue to urge China to do the same," he added.
NATO chief shows concerns over Chinese military capabilities
Meanwhile, Stoltenberg said that the balloon over the US airspace confirms a pattern of Chinese behaviour, and it has been observed that Beijing has extensively invested in new military capabilities over the past few years, including various platforms for surveillance and intelligence.
"We have also seen increased Chinese intelligence activities in Europe – again, different platforms. They use satellites, cyber, and as we've seen over the United States, also balloons," he said.
"So, we have to be vigilant. We need to be aware of the constant risk of Chinese intelligence and then step up what we do to protect ourselves," the NATO chief asserted while highlighting that security is not regional but global.
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US shot down Chinese balloon
Earlier this week, US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman briefed diplomats from about 40 friendly nations, including India, Japan and Australia, over the surveillance balloon. The balloon was shot down on Saturday off the coast of South Carolina in the Atlantic Ocean. It had hovered over continental America for several days after entering the US airspace on January 30 in Montana.
China has acknowledged that the ballon was theirs but denied that it was for surveillance purposes rather for weather monitoring and that it had drifted off course. The US, however, has asserted that it has enough evidence to prove that this was a surveillance balloon. It accused China of intruding on its sovereignty and violating international laws.
(With inputs from AP)