Amid strained relations following the launch of a suspected spy balloon, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and China’s top foreign policy leader Wang Yi have met for the first time. The encounter took place on Saturday on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference. Initially, however, there were no signs of an easing afterwards either. The relationship between the two major powers has been even more strained since the Chinese balloon was shot down in American airspace earlier this month.

Blinken addressed the “unacceptable violation of US sovereignty and international law” by the entry of a Chinese surveillance balloon into US airspace, its spokesman Ned Price said. Such an incident must not be repeated. Former Foreign Minister Wang Yi, on the other hand, made clear “China’s tough stance in the so-called airship incident,” the Xinhua state agency reported on Sunday. He also called on the United States to recognize and repair the damage to mutual relations caused by “excessive use of force”.

USA does not want a new Cold War

According to the American side, Blinken assured that the USA was not looking for a conflict and did not want a new Cold War. However, they will defend their own values. At the same time, he stressed the importance of ongoing diplomatic dialogue. Because of the suspected spy balloon, the US minister canceled a visit to Beijing earlier this month at practically the last minute. Since then there had been no contacts at such a high level.

After its discovery, the balloon had flown over large parts of the USA for days, including military facilities. The US government assumes that he was traveling for espionage purposes. So the balloon was finally launched on February 4th after it was over open sea off the coast of the state of South Carolina. The debris is now being examined by the FBI. China speaks of a research balloon that has gone off course.

Will Blinken visit China soon?

Before his conversation with Blinken, Wang Yi had already criticized the shooting down in Munich as “absurd and hysterical”. There was no information from either side as to whether Blinken’s visit would be made up for in the near future. It would be the first visit by a US Secretary of State to China in several years.

After the suspected spy balloon, US fighter jets shot down three more flying objects over North America. It is still unclear where they came from and what they were used for. However, US President Joe Biden said on Thursday that the three objects were not part of “China’s spy balloon program”. According to the intelligence services, they most likely belonged to private companies or research institutions. The search for the rubble has now been stopped by the United States.