The U.S. and China met to discuss the ‘spy balloon.’ Their statements afterward were very different

  • Diplomatic meetings between China and the United States are watched more closely by markets than probably at any point in history.
  • A comparison between official U.S. and Chinese diplomatic statements that followed the Blinken-Wang meeting shows differences in content and tone.

High-level meetings between China and the United States are again front-and-center for markets, and the official statements that follow those meetings are parsed by some investors as closely as Federal Reserve minutes.

Investors want to know where the relationship is headed, so it’s significant how much Washington’s diplomatic take can differ from Beijing’s — in content and in tone.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and China’s top diplomat Wang Yi met last weekend in Germany to discuss Ukraine, Taiwan and this month’s intrusion into U.S. airspace by — and the U.S. shoot-down of — a Chinese “spy balloon.”

What follows is a comparison between the official diplomatic statements of the United States and China that followed the Blinken-Wang meeting.

Spy balloon

U.S. State Department: The Secretary directly spoke to the unacceptable violation of U.S. sovereignty and international law by the PRC high-altitude surveillance balloon in U.S. territorial airspace, underscoring that this irresponsible act must never again occur. The Secretary made clear the United States will not stand for any violation of our sovereignty, and that the PRC’s high altitude surveillance balloon program — which has intruded into the air space of over 40 countries across 5 continents — has been exposed to the world.

Chinese foreign ministry: Wang Yi set forth China’s strong position on the so-called “balloon incident” and pointed out that what the US side has done was apparently an abuse of the use of force and violation of customary international practice and the International Civil Aviation Covenant. China deplores it and strongly protests it. It is the US who is in fact the number one country in terms of surveillance, whose high-altitude balloons illegally flew over China multiple times. The US is in no position to smear China. What the US needs to do is demonstrate sincerity, and acknowledge and resolve the damage its abuse of force has done to China-US relations. If the US side continues to fuss over, dramatize and escalate the unintended and isolated incident, it should not expect the Chinese side to flinch. The US side should be prepared to bear all consequence arising from an escalation.


U.S. State Department: On Russia’s brutal war against Ukraine, the Secretary warned about the implications and consequences if China provides material support to Russia or assistance with systemic sanctions evasion.

Chinese foreign ministry: Wang Yi stressed that on the Ukraine issue, China stands by principles. China is committed to promoting peace talks and has played a constructive role. The China-Russia comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination is built on the basis of non-alliance, non-confrontation and non-targeting of third countries, which is within the sovereign right of any two independent states. We do not accept the US’s finger-pointing or even coercion targeting China-Russia relations. The US, as a major country, has every reason to work for a political settlement of the crisis instead of fanning the flames or profiting from it.


U.S. State Department: The Secretary reaffirmed there had been no change to the longstanding U.S. one China policy, and he underscored the importance of maintaining peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.

Chinese foreign ministry: Wang Yi pointed out that to preserve stability across the Taiwan Strait, one must firmly oppose “Taiwan independence” and uphold the one-China principle. On the Taiwan question, the US side should respect historical facts, honor its political commitments and follow through on its statement of “not supporting Taiwan independence”.

North Korea missile test

U.S. State Department: The Secretary condemned today’s ICBM test by the DPRK as the latest destabilizing act carried out by Pyongyang, and emphasized the need for responsible powers to respond to such significant international challenges.

Chinese foreign ministry: The ministry made no mention of North Korea.

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