(CNSNews.com) – The United States government is still communicating with the People’s Republic of China (PRC), despite China’s unprecedented incursion of U.S. air space and its apparent spying on U.S. military installations, a State Department spokesman said on Monday.
“Now, when it comes to engagement with the PRC, we’ve also been very clear that we seek lines of communication, lines of dialogue to remain open,” PRess Secretary Ned Price said:
“Secretary Blinken picked up the phone on Friday morning to reach out to Wang Yi, the senior foreign policy official within the People’s Republic of China, with a couple of messages.
“One was that, even in this time of heightened tension — in the context of the discovery of the high-altitude surveillance balloon — we wanted to be able to pick up the phone to speak to one another. We believe that dialogue and diplomacy is always important when it comes to a competitive relationship like this. We believe it’s especially important when tensions are even further heightened.
“We’re going to remain in touch with our PRC counterparts. The embassy has been in touch with their PRC counterparts. Senior individuals in this building have been in touch with their PRC counterparts since Friday as well.”
Price said that Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s planned trip to China last Friday — a trip that was canceled because of China’s air space violation — was supposed to establish a “floor” on the U.S.-China relationship. That means ensuring “that competition doesn’t veer into conflict, but also to see – to test the proposition of collaboration, cooperation in areas that matter to us, that are of profound interest to us, but also that are of profound interest to the rest of the world.”
The arrival of the balloon over the western USA — and its trans-continental journey — “undermined the point of that visit,” Price said. “We would not have been able to conduct the important business that Secretary Blinken was looking forward to doing on the ground in Beijing in that context.”
But Blinken’s trip will happen eventually, Price indicated: “We’ll determine when it’s appropriate to potentially look to travel to the PRC to have the type of discussion that we think it’s incumbent on our countries to have,” he said.
“We haven’t had conversations at this point about rescheduling the trip.”
“As I said, right now we are focused on coordinating closely with our allies and partners, sharing information, comparing notes, making sure that they understand the information that we have in our possession, they understand the basis for our actions, and that they understand the brazen nature of this violation of our sovereignty, violations of sovereignty that are not unique to us, that have taken place across countries and across regions around the globe.”
“Even as we convey these tough messages in a candid way, we are going to continue to maintain in contact with the PRC,” Price added later.
“I suspect there will be opportunities going forward for the Secretary to engage in that face-to-face diplomacy. After all, we didn’t cancel this meeting, we postponed it.
“We postponed it until such a time where it would be appropriate for the Secretary to travel to Beijing to have the type of meeting that we hope to have, a meeting that could help to establish a floor under the relationship and a meeting where we could discuss everything that’s of interest to us and many issues that are of interest to the rest of the world as well.”
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