Blinken tells Xi meeting will be postponed after Chinese spy balloon discovered over Montana

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On Friday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken postponed a trip to China that was scheduled for Sunday after a suspected Chinese surveillance balloon was observed moving into Montana on Thursday. 

NBC News reports that Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations Ian Johnson said that leadership from the US and China, “need to show that the relationship is being managed and it isn’t just spinning out of control.”

Blinken had originally planned to meet with Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang and likely President Xi Jinping as well.

The trip was postponed after the balloon, which had traveled the past several days across northern states, neared Montana’s Malmstrom Air Force Base, which houses one of the nation’s three nuclear missile silo fields. 

Montana Senator Steve Daines echoed concerns that the balloon was spying on nuclear sites. 

Fox News reports Brigadier General Pat Ryder said on Thursday, “The balloon is currently traveling at an altitude well above commercial air traffic and does not present a military or physical threat to people on the ground. Instances of this kind of balloon activity have been observed previously over the past several years.”

According to the Daily Mail, Chinese foreign ministry officials out of Beijing said the balloon was a civilian weather research airship and they regretted it had “deviated far from its planned course” and entered US airspace.

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