Balloon shooting tensions linger as China refuses call between top officials : NPR
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The Pentagon says China has refused a request for a secure phone call between Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and his Chinese counterpart, Wei Fenghe, after the United States shot down a balloon of a suspected Chinese spy.
Beijing said the balloon was a “civilian airship” used for meteorology and other scientific purposes, and the decision to shoot it out of the sky was an “overreaction.” China filed a formal complaint with the US embassy in Beijing on Monday.
The United States rejects the Chinese explanation, saying the balloon was trying to monitor strategic sites as it drifted over the continental United States that made headlines last week.
On Saturday, an F-22 Raptor, acting on President Biden’s orders, shot him down with a missile on the Atlantic coast.
“We believe in the importance of maintaining open lines of communication between the United States and the [People’s Republic of China] in order to manage the relationship responsibly. The lines between our military are particularly important at times like this,” US Department of Defense spokesman Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder said in a statement on Tuesday.
“Unfortunately, the PRC refused our request. Our commitment to open lines of communication will continue.”
In August, after then-Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan, China cut dialogue with the United States in a range of areas — including military-to-military .
While some others have resumed, the two sides have yet to resume defense talks.