Against the background of increasing bilateral tensions, there had been speculation about a meeting between the two diplomats in Munich. Because of the suspected Chinese spy balloon over the United States, Blinken canceled a planned visit to Beijing at short notice in early February. In the hour-long meeting at an undisclosed location in Munich, Blinken was “very direct and open,” said a senior US State Department official, who declined to be named.

In connection with the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine, Blinken also warned of “consequences” should Beijing provide Russia with “material support” or help circumvent Western sanctions, US State Department spokesman Ned Price summed up the meeting. At the same time, Blinken emphasized that the US did not want “a conflict” with China and also no “new Cold War”. Blinken underlined the importance of diplomatic dialogue and open communication channels “at all times”.

China’s state news agency Xinhua reported after the meeting that Wang “made clear China’s tough stance in the so-called airship incident.” He also called on the US to “change course, recognize and repair the damage that its excessive use of force has caused to US-Chinese relations.” According to Xinhua, the talks took place in Munich at the request of the US side.

In a speech to international politicians and experts gathered in Munich, Wang had previously accused the United States of reacting “hysterically and absurdly” to the balloon affair. He accused the US government of having a “misguided” view of China and wanting to “smear” Beijing’s image.

China urges the US not to do such “absurd things” just to “divert attention from domestic problems,” Wang said. “There are many balloons from many countries in the sky. Do you want to shoot down every one of them?” the top Chinese foreign policy maker asked ironically.

The day-long overflight of the suspected Chinese spy balloon over several top-secret US nuclear weapons depots had led to a scandal between Washington and Beijing. Blinken canceled a planned trip to Beijing at short notice. It should have been the first visit to China by a US Secretary of State in more than four years.

A US fighter jet finally shot down the white balloon over the sea on February 4th. The US military then recovered debris that is now being examined. Beijing describes the balloon as a weather balloon and rejects allegations of espionage.

US President Joe Biden signaled on Thursday his willingness to calm tensions with Beijing and also to speak to Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Tensions between China and the United States have increased significantly in recent years. Among other things, it deals with the conflict over Taiwan, the situation in Hong Kong, human rights and trade issues. In the past few months, however, there had also been signs of relaxation. Biden and Xi met on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Indonesia last November.