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    Balloon Bursts Hopes for End to Spiraling US-China Tensions

    Balloon Bursts Hopes for End to Spiraling US-China Tensions

    — Monday was supposed to be a day of modest hope in the U.S.- relationship. Secretary of State Antony Blinken was going to be in , meeting with President Xi Jinping in a high-stakes bid to ease ever-rising tensions between the world's two largest economies.

    Instead, Blinken was spending the day in Washington after abruptly cancelling his visit late last week as the U.S. and China exchanged angry words about a suspected Chinese spy balloon the U.S. shot down. As fraught as the US-China relationship had been ahead of Blinken's planned trip, it's even worse now and there's little hope for it improving anytime soon.

    Even as both sides maintain they will manage the situation in a calm manner, the mutual recriminations, particularly since the shoot-down of the balloon on Saturday that drew a stern Chinese protest, do not bode well for rapprochement.

    The setback comes at a time when both sides were looking for a way to potentially extricate themselves from a low point in ties that has had the world on edge.

    White House National Security Spokesman John Kirby noted Monday that Blinken's trip was delayed, not canceled. But prospects for rescheduling remain uncertain.

    “I would put this at a six” on a scale of 10, said Danny Russel, a China expert and former assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs in the Obama administration, on the damage to current diplomatic efforts…

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