China has declined the US's request for Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin to speak with Chinese Defense Minister Wei Fenghe after the US Air Force shot down a suspected Chinese spy balloon, according to the Pentagon

The US Defense Department made the request after the shootdown took place on Saturday, but the People's Republic of China declined it.

The downing of the balloon and China's refusal to engage have revealed the difficulties both countries face in trying to maintain steady relations despite trade tensions, Taiwan tensions and their global rivalry for influence.

China has said the balloon was a civilian craft for meteorological research and had blown off course, which the Biden administration has dismissed.