Friday, June 14, 2024

China refuses US request for call between Austin, Gen Wei Fenghe, says Pentagon

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China has declined Washington’s request for a telephonic call between US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and his Beijing counterpart Gen Wei Fenghe, the Pentagon has said after fighter jets shot down a Chinese surveillance balloon.

The request was made soon after 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.

“On Saturday, immediately after taking action to down the PRC balloon, the DOD (Department of Defense) submitted a request for a secure call between Secretary Austin and PRC (People’s Republic of China) Minister of National Defense Wei Fenghe,” Pentagon spokesperson Gen Pat Ryder said Tuesday.

“We believe in the importance of maintaining open lines of communication between the United States and the PRC in order to responsibly manage the relationship.

Lines between our militaries are particularly important in moments like this,” he said.Unfortunately, China has “declined our request.

Our commitment to open lines of communication will continue,” the spokesperson said.

The US has accused China of violating American sovereignty and international law.

China, on the other hand, has said that by shooting down its balloon, the US has violated international law and warned that it reserves its right to take appropriate action in response.

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