Biden says U.S.-China relations not weakened by balloon incident

President Biden holds a meeting with his Competition Council at the White House in Washington
U.S. President Joe Biden listens during a meeting of the White House Competition Council in the East Room of the White House in Washington, U.S., February 1, 2023. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

WASHINGTON, Feb 6 (Reuters) - President Joe Biden said on Monday that relations between Washington and Beijing were not weakened by the United States' downing of a suspected Chinese spy balloon over the weekend.

Speaking to reporters outside the White House, Biden said it was always his view that the balloon needed to be shot down "as soon as it was appropriate."

Asked if the balloon incident weakens U.S.-China relations, Biden said: "No. We made it clear to China what we're going to do. They understand our position. We're not going to back off."

Biden continued: "We did the right thing and it's not a question of weakening or strengthening - it's reality."

(This story has been refiled to remove an extraneous word in paragraph 1)

Reporting by Jeff Mason and Dan Whitcomb; writing by Rami Ayyub; editing by Tim Ahmann

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