A Chinese envoy said Friday that Washington's response to a Chinese unmanned civilian airship unexpectedly entering U.S. airspace was an overreaction, urging the U.S. side not to let bilateral relations go astray as a result of this isolated incident.
Xu Xueyuan, charge d'affaires at the Chinese Embassy in Washington, said in an opinion essay published in The Washington Post that China has informed the United States of the nature of the incident -- that the airship was used for meteorological research and unintentionally entered U.S. airspace, and that it had limited self-steering capability -- "after earnest verification and in the shortest possible time. We have asked that the situation be handled in a calm, professional and quiet manner."
The overreaction by America to shoot down the airship despite the fact that it posed no real security threat -- and its moves to heighten the issue, including alleging that China has a high-altitude surveillance balloon program targeting the world and illegally imposing sanctions on six Chinese companies and institutions -- have exacerbated the situation, Xu said. "This isolated incident has caused new wounds in China-U.S. relations."
"The bilateral relationship is the world's most important and complex. Relations between the two nations have never been smooth sailing but have included a process of overcoming problems whenever they occur. Many of the issues between the two countries originate from strategic misperception and misjudgment. The difficulty caused by the airship's accidental entrance in U.S. airspace is yet another example," she said.
"But problems are not to be feared," Xu said. "What matters is good faith and the ability to resolve them."
"This bilateral relationship requires a 'whole-process' approach and attention to the bigger picture. What, then, is that bigger picture? It is the fact that the two countries have many more common interests than differences; it is the common understanding that a sound and stable China-U.S. relationship is fundamentally good for the two countries and people worldwide," she said.
"When the China-U.S. relationship enters a difficult patch, we must show the courage and wisdom to respect facts and return to reason. Sensational and politically driven moves harm everyone. By handling this balloon incident properly, China and the U.S. would prove to their people, and the world, that they can respect each other and act responsibly to manage differences and avoid confrontation," Xu said.
"China stands for more dialogue between the two countries at all levels. This has been an important understanding reached between President Xi Jinping and President Biden at their Bali meeting three months ago ... China and the United States both gain from cooperation and lose from confrontation," she said.
"We sincerely hope that the United States will work with China and not allow a wandering balloon to lead the bilateral relationship astray. We look forward to concrete steps to prevent the situation from going further down the wrong path, so that the China-U.S. relationship can return to a track of sound and stable development," Xu said.