Biden predicts thaw in relations with China after ‘silly’ spy balloon incident

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President Biden on Sunday predicted a “thaw” in U.S.-China relations after the “silly” surveillance balloon incident earlier this year.

“And then this silly balloon that was carrying two freight cars’ worth of spying equipment was flying over the United States, and it got shot down, and everything changed in terms of talking to one another. I think you’re going to see that begin to thaw very shortly,” Biden said at a press conference in Hiroshima, where he was for the Group of Seven summit.

Tensions between the two global powers had heightened due to the pandemic and economic issues, and were further exacerbated in March after the Biden administration shot down a Chinese surveillance balloon that had floated for days over U.S. airspace. Beijing insisted the aircraft was a civilian weather device.

China’s stance on the democratically governed Taiwan and its partnership with Russia amid Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine have also strained relations.

Leaders at the G7 summit urged China to pressure Russia to end the war.

Biden stressed the G7’s position on China, as released in a joint communiqué: “We’re not looking to decouple from China, we’re looking to de-risk and diversify our relationship with China.”

The global leaders said in their joint statement that they “stand prepared to build constructive and stable relations with China” because of Beijing’s “role in the international community and the size of its economy, on global challenges as well as areas of common interest.”

“Our policy approaches are not designed to harm China nor do we seek to thwart China’s economic progress and development. A growing China that plays by international rules would be of global interest,” the join statement reads.

Biden is headed back to D.C. from his international trip before planned visits to Papua New Guinea and Australia in order to have in-person talks with Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and congressional leaders on the debt ceiling.

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