QUESTION: And joining me now from Munich is the Secretary of State Antony Blinken. Mr. Secretary, welcome back to Meet the Press.
SECRETARY BLINKEN: Thanks, Chuck.
QUESTION: Well, look, let me start with the news of the moment, at least for you. I know you just got out of a meeting that in diplomatic terms is called “on the margins” with your counterpart, Wang Yi of China. I have read the readout we have stated about what you said to him. I guess what I’m more concerned about is: What did he say to you? Number one, did it begin with an apology for the balloon?
SECRETARY BLINKEN: Chuck, I don’t want to characterize what he said. I don’t think that would be appropriate, although I can tell you, no, there was no apology. But what I can also tell you is this was an opportunity to speak very clearly and very directly about the fact that China sent a surveillance balloon over our territory violating our sovereignty, violating international law. And I told him quite simply that that was unacceptable and can never happen again. We’re of course not the only ones on the receiving end of these surveillance balloons. More than 40 countries have had these balloons fly over them in recent years, and that’s been exposed to the world. I also had an opportunity – because we’re here in Munich, as you know, focused primarily on Russia’s ongoing aggression against Ukraine —
SECRETARY BLINKEN: — to share our very real concerns about China’s support for Russia in that war. And what we’ve seen in – over the past years is, of course, some political and rhetorical support, even some non-lethal support, but we are very concerned that China’s considering providing lethal support to Russia in its aggression against Ukraine. And I made clear that that would have serious consequences in our relationship as well, something President Biden has shared directly with President Xi on several occasions. Finally, I underscored the importance of having direct lines of communication, the importance of continuing to engage in diplomacy between our countries. I think this is something that the world expects of us. They expect us to manage this relationship responsibly. And so it was important that we had that opportunity this evening here in Munich.
QUESTION: I want to start with what I think is the newer piece of information that you’re sharing and I know that we’ve been reporting separately, this concern that China is considering potential lethal aid in this war to Russia. What evidence can you share with us that indicates your concern that they’re going to escalate their help to Russia? As you said, they’ve been helping them rhetorically. They’ve been helping them maybe by buying cheap oil. But what is the other evidence that you have here that they’re thinking about doing more?
SECRETARY BLINKEN: Well, Chuck, China’s having – trying to have it both ways. Publicly they present themselves as a country striving for peace in Ukraine, but privately, as I said, we’ve seen already over these past months the provision of non-lethal assistance that does go directly to aiding and abetting Russia’s war effort. And some further information that we are sharing today and that I think will be out there soon that indicates that they are strongly considering providing lethal assistance to Russia. To the best of our knowledge, they haven’t crossed that line yet —
QUESTION: What form – in what form is that?
SECRETARY BLINKEN: — but as we’re sharing —
QUESTION: Yeah – in what form?
SECRETARY BLINKEN: Chuck, I don’t want to get into the details in this moment. But there are various kinds of lethal assistance that they are at least contemplating providing, to include weapons.
QUESTION: What else would you describe as lethal assistance that wasn’t weapons?
SECRETARY BLINKEN: Well, again, I’ll let the information that we have and that we’re sharing speak for itself. But the main concern is material support to Russia’s war effort that would have a lethal effect.
Official news published at https://www.state.gov/secretary-antony-j-blinken-with-chuck-todd-of-nbc-meet-the-press-3/