Australia urges calm over Chinese ‘weather’ balloon

Foreign Minister Penny Wong has responded to a US-China spat over a suspected spy balloon.

Foreign Minister Penny Wong has responded to a US-China spat over a suspected spy balloon. Photo: AAP

Australia has called for calm after a suspected Chinese spy balloon was shot down in the United States.

Foreign Minister Penny Wong said while it was concerning the balloon entered US airspace, allies including Australia must be measured in their response.

Senator Wong said it was important for countries including Australia to continue to engage with China and prevent its competition with America from escalating into conflict.

“We share the US’s concerns about the infringement of US sovereignty and the violation of international law and that the US has acted in a careful way, a responsible way,” she said on Monday.

“It’s very important in the specific or more generally that we don’t allow competition to escalate into conflict. To this end it is really very important that China and the US continue to engage.”

Senator Wong urged for talks between the two world powers to continue.

“We would add our voice to, I’m sure, many in the region, we want a stable, peaceful prosperous region and world,” she said.

US President Joe Biden said the balloon had crossed over sensitive military sites but Chinese officials insisted it was a weather monitoring device that entered the country by accident.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has postponed a planned visit to China following the balloon barney.

Senator Wong said Australia was focused on stabilising its own relationship with China and abolish a raft of trade sanctions.

The foreign minister said Australia would always ensure its sovereignty was protected.

“We will always encourage other countries to act in accordance with international law,” she said.

Trade Minister Don Farrell is preparing to meet his Chinese counterpart Wang Wentao.

While the meeting’s exact date has not been confirmed, China’s $20 billion trade sanctions on Australian products including barley, rock lobsters and wine are expected to be discussed.

It will mark the first time in three years Australian and Chinese ministers responsible for trade have met and is expected to lead to an in-person discussion.

Senator Wong said it would a benefit to both countries if the trade sanctions were lifted.

“This is the first step of many and both countries have to walk down the path to a more stable relationship,” she said.

“It is true many steps are being taken. It is probably also true that more steps have to be taken. We will continue to do that.”


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