Fragile relations between the United States and China have been aggravated in recent hours by the discovery of a giant balloon flying at 60,000 feet over US territory. The suspicion expressed by the Pentagon is that it is a spy balloon designed to gather intelligence. The White House's reaction was immediate and it protested the violation of sovereignty involved and the violation of international law.
The Beijing government responded that it was an environmental research balloon that had been blown off course by the wind. The Pentagon was not convinced by this explanation. The gigantic balloon was located in northwest Missouri by the meteorological services and later in Montana. The Pentagon warned that in view of its movements it will remain over US territory for several days. Meanwhile, President Joe Biden ordered the suspension of the trip to China planned by Secretary of State Antony Blinken this weekend.
It was a visit previously agreed at the last summit in Washington between Biden and Xi Jinping, the President of China. The agenda was wide-ranging and complex, although the main topic of the talks would revolve around the long-standing conflict over Taiwan, the independent island that Beijing claims as its own and Washington has reiterated on numerous occasions that it will not allow. The conflict is currently seen as the main threat of the outbreak of World War III, with the war between Ukraine and Russia once again raising fears.
One of the concerns is that China, which has so far remained neutral, will accept Putin's pressure to join the little aid it is receiving from abroad. The confrontation between the United States and China is typical of the two superpowers vying for international influence, not to mention the economic competition that complicates their relations.
In recent days, the United States concluded an agreement with the new government of the Philippines to expand the military bases it already maintains on its territory. Although the agreement has not been given much prominence, analysts agree that it is a US manoeuvre to consolidate its strategic position in the region in the face of a possible escalation of the conflict with China. The conviction is that the recovery of Taiwan is Xi Jinping's main objective in order to consolidate his leadership, recently renewed by the Communist Party Congress, which would ensure him a place in history.