Beijing Accuses US of Hyping Up 'China Threat'; More Provocations, Taiwan Air Incursion Likely, Say Experts

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China responded angrily to the shooting down of a gigantic Chinese balloon that entered the US air space. Beijing said the balloon incident was overhyped and Washington 'overreacted' by shooting the flying object down.

"China is a responsible country and has always strictly abided by international law. We do not accept any groundless speculation and hype," Wang Yi, director of the Office of the Foreign Affairs Commission of the Chinese Communist Party said after holding a telephonic discussion with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

Chinese spy balloon
The Chinese spy balloon seen disintegrating in a white puff after being hit by a US Air Force missile Twitter

Chinese analysts quoted by Beijing mouthpiece Global Times by said the US decision-makers should 'properly manage the anti-China sentiment fanned by some politicians out of selfish interest'. They also asked the US leaders to demonstrate political leadership to better handle China-US relations.

"The unexpected incident of the balloon gave some hawkish anti-China lawmakers a chance to attack China through the hype of "China spying" and "China threat", underscoring the increasing tensions between the world's two largest economies," the mouthpiece said.

The report alleges that the US military and media jumped into conclusions before clearly assessing the facts and accused China of spying. The balloon incident has taken US' hyping of the "China threat" to a new level, the analysts said. They warned that the incident will strain the relations between the countries further.

Chinese balloon
The Chinese balloon seen being shot down by a US F-22 fighter jet Twitter

F-22 Fighter Shoots Down the Balloon

On Saturday, a US Airforce F-22 fighter jet shot down the Chinese spy balloon that floated across American airspace, eight days and 4,000 miles after it first crossed the US border. The balloon was shot down over the Atlantic Ocean off the Eastern Seaboard of the United States, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin confirmed Saturday.

Calls for Biden to Resign

In the US, the 'spy balloon' incident put the administration on the back foot, with some Republicans even calling for the resignation of President Joe Biden and vice-president Kamala Harris. "The catastrophic Chinese Spy Balloon spectacle clearly threatened American families from Alaska to my home community in South Carolina and confirms President Biden and Vice President Harris should resign," said Rep. Joe Wilson, R-S.C., a member of the House Armed Services Committee.

"My call for their resignation was valid in August 2021 due to the surrender and disastrous withdrawal in Afghanistan, creating a safe haven for terrorists to attack American families," Wilson tweeted.

How Will China React?

China continued to insist that the balloon incident was a trivial matter as the craft was merely a weather balloon that deviated from its flight path. It was described as an unmanned civilian airship used mainly for meteorological research purposes and made an unintended entry into the US airspace. "China will resolutely safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of relevant enterprises and reserve the right to make further necessary responses," the foreign ministry said in a statement.

China's vigorous justification of its acts after the unmanned aircraft entered the US air space signals more provocations from Beijing in the coming days, some analysts say.

More Provocations?

"This is an effort by the Chinese to deflect attention from the fact that they egregiously and provocatively violated U.S. airspace and international law," said James Anderson, former Trump administration Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Policy. "China will continue to claim that the United States 'overreacted' in shooting down the spy balloon ... Beijing may also engage in further provocations against U.S. interests in the days ahead. Washington needs to be vigilant and prepared to vigorously defend its national security interests both at home and abroad," Anderson added, according to Fox News.

Interfere With Recovery of Debris?

inHe also warned that PLA-directed maritime vessels may even try to interrupt US efforts to recover the balloon debris. "It is possible, though one would certainly hope unlikely, that in the coming days one or more PLA-directed maritime vessels may seek to interfere with the recovery effort of the balloon debris located within U.S. territorial waters," Anderson added.

Impact on Taiwan Tensions

China is flying its stealth jets over contested territorial regions. Twitter

According to former deputy assistant secretary of defense Heino Klinck, though China may not take a physically aggressive stance, their rhetoric will become even more aggressive as they try to shift blame. "Rhetorically, it may be aggressive, but they're not going to take physical action. Again, it's their norm to try to shift blame .. It is the norm for them to try to portray themselves as the innocent actor abiding by international law and international standards of conduct, when in fact it's the exact opposite," Klinck said.

He also warned that the incident will likely have an impact on the Taiwan tensions. "[It] will be interesting to see ... how the Chinese position themselves vis-a-vis Taiwan," he said, adding that he foresaw China becoming even more aggressive in terms of playing incursions into Taiwanese airspace.

This article was first published on February 5, 2023