An arrogant and belligerent Communist Party of China has sent a spy balloon into the U.S. on the eve of a historic visit by the U.S. secretary of state to Beijing, who is slated to meet Xi Jinping. Communist officials do these sorts of things, wanting to humiliate the other side, project strength and send a message.
In this gesture to project power and dominance over the U.S., possibly to gain leverage over upcoming negotiations, or possibly to create fear and panic in the general American public because in this time of high-tech spy satellites where it is relatively easy to hide nefarious activities, sending a giant balloon lumbering across the U.S. in full view was both eerie and terrorizing.
On February 2, Pentagon officials said they detected a massive maneuverable Chinese intelligence-gathering balloon over Montana, which is home to about 150 intercontinental ballistic missile silos and strategic bomber bases.
On February 3, in response to China’s violation on the U.S.’ sovereign rights and territorial integrity, Secretary of State Antony Blinken canceled his China trip. On February 5, a U.S. fighter jet shot down the spy balloon with a single missile off the East Coast near the Carolinas, where it was safe to do so without undue risk to human lives.
China, not bothering to hide the fact, gave a laughable excuse that it was a weather balloon blown off course, despite the fact that the substructure is 90 feet long with steering apparatus, cameras and other surveillance equipment with the ability to send real time data back to China, while the balloon itself is significantly larger and taller.
90 feet is roughly the length of three city buses. Pentagon spokesman Brig. Gen. Patrick Ryder said the balloon has a “large payload underneath the surveillance component” and compared it to a basket under a blimp.
The presence of the spy balloon in U.S. airspace is a national security threat and clear violation of U.S. sovereignty and international law, and this latest incident, among a long list of other coercive and aggressive actions, serves only to expose the irresponsibility and unreliability of Xi’s totalitarian regime. It also jeopardized the chance to have an open dialogue with the U.S. to dial down on the geopolitical tension. This crisis of China’s own making will only harden the resolve of the U.S. and its allies to counterbalance a malevolent Chinese Communist Party.
Be that as it may, the spy balloon incident leaves no doubt about China’s ambition to topple the U.S. as the top superpower, and to dismantle and remold the existing international order into China’s own image.
China has both the intent and economic, diplomatic, military, and technological power to do so. Indeed, in recent years, China has stepped up its aggression in the Indo-Pacific region and beyond, using heavy-handed tactics to strong-arm anyone, including businesses, to force them to fall in line.
However, there are still politicians, investors and CEOs who still view Communist China with rose-tinted glasses, out of ignorance and greed, and turning a blind eye to egregious human rights abuses, unfair trade practices, and a highly politicized economy, hoping to make a profit at the expense of being an ethical and upstanding member of the global community.
U.S. military leaders such as Air Mobility Command’s commander Gen. Mike Minihan, Adm. Michael M. Gilday, Chief of Naval Operations, and Adm. Phil Davidson, former head of Indo-Pacific Command, raised the probability of a military confrontation with China in the near future, ranging from 2023 to 2027. On January 30, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg warned that China poses an emerging military threat to Europe.
On January 13, Japan’s prime minister Fumio Kishida vowed to work with the U.S. to reinforce the country’s defense capability and to grow missile counterstrike ability in the face China’s militaristic aggression. In last August, China has fired missiles around Taiwan, five of which landed in Japanese waters, the first time it happened. And Chinese military has also increased maritime incursions in the East China Sea and around the Senkaku Islands, which is disputed territory between the two governments.
On February 2, the Philippines allowed the U.S. to station military equipment and build facilities in nine locations, marking the first time in 30 years that the U.S. will have such a large military presence in the country. The Filipino government sees China’s continued military buildup and illegal fishing in the South China Sea as a threat.
China has claimed 90 percent of the South China Sea with the ridiculous nine-dash lines argument, and refused to acknowledge a 2016 ruling of an international court in The Hague that stated the Scarborough Shoal is sovereign territory of the Philippines, and that China could not claim the entire South China Sea as its own. Nonetheless, in flagrant disregard of international law, China continued to militarize and send ships to the region to assert control of it.
In January, the Chinese Communist Party launched a charm offensive and propaganda operation with the aim to entice global investment into a totalitarian regime, obfuscate the fact that China is a threat to capitalism, and deceive the world into believing China has returned to a period of rapid economic growth.
In China, businesses will always be under the control of the Communist Party of China and party cells are embedded into management and board level. Xi does not tolerate any independence from his control or a potential critic to arise from the business or any other community. Increasingly, CEOs and investors are moving their businesses to India and Vietnam.
In essence, Xi has weaponized the Chinese economy against the rest of the world. Therefore, an over-reliance on the Chinese economy is dangerous, and is a risk to national security and business interest. It will not be easy to stand up to Xi, because some of the most powerful interests are deeply invested. Be that as it may, those that stand with Xi will find that the Chinese economy is no longer the powerhouse the propaganda machine made it out to be and it is in fact, facing a lot of challenges, which the communist officials have no way to mitigate effectively.
Those who invest in China, take the Chinese Communist Party’s money or help it to raise capital, should know that with slow growth due to structural problems, population decline, banking crisis, property crisis, private sector crackdowns, and low consumption, China’s economy is in trouble right now and it is not going to recover anytime soon. With the ongoing confrontation with the U.S., this may very well be the beginning of the end of the Chinese economy.
Photo credit: iStock/ hanhanpeggy. December 27, 2011. Chinese soldiers, Forbidden City.