A Sacking In China May Be Linked To Balloon Shot Down By US: Report
China replaced its national weather director shortly after the US revealed a hot air balloon was flying over its territory, sparking speculation that the move was related to Beijing’s claim that it was a means of climate research.
The State Council, the cabinet of the Chinese government, made the announcement regarding Zhuang Guotai on Friday, although the statement did not give a reason for his dismissal.
China said hours after announcing Zhuang’s expulsion that the hot air balloon had inadvertently entered US territory. The China Meteorological Administration has not named a replacement for him.
It is unclear whether the decision was related to the balloon that China said was collecting climate data and then shot down by the US. The Chinese government is reshuffled key personnel in ministries across the vast bureaucracy ahead of the National People’s Congress meeting in March, when the process should have been completed.
Zhuang is 60 years old, usually the age at which Chinese officials move into roles in the legislature or political advisory body before retiring at 65. Zhuang was appointed to the advisory position. in Gansu province, northwest China in January.
However, the timing of the layoff is curious. It comes shortly after the US Department of Defense said it was tracking a suspected Chinese surveillance balloon over sensitive nuclear missile sites in Montana.
The Foreign Ministry in Beijing did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Monday. Calls to the nation’s meteorological agency went unanswered.
The buzz about hot air balloons flying across the United States prompted Secretary of State Antony Blinken to postpone a trip to Beijing, what was supposed to be the first such visit in more than four years.
Blinken’s trip could include a meeting with Chinese leader Xi Jinping, whose talks with President Joe Biden on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Bali in November helped defuse tensions.
(Except for the title, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from an aggregated feed.)
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