China threatens US entities over downing of balloon

Old and busted: “Objects.” New hotness: “Entities.”

No, we’re not talking about extraterrestrial “entities.” (Or at least I don’t think so.) Ten days after an American F-22 Raptor shot down the Chinese spy balloon with a sidewinder missile off the coast of the Carolinas, China is threatening to “take measures against U.S. entities.” What sort of measures? We don’t know because the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson didn’t say. But the unmitigated gall of the people who sent a surveillance balloon into American airspace is now fully on display. 

From the Associated Press:

China said Wednesday it will take measures against U.S. entities related to the downing of a suspected Chinese spy balloon off the American East Coast.

At a daily briefing, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin gave no details and did not identify the targets of the measures.

China says the balloon was a unmanned weather airship that was accidentally blown off course and accuses the U.S. of overreacting in bringing it down with a missile fired from an F-22 fighter jet.

Since the Feb. 4 downing of the balloon, the United States has sanctioned six Chinese entities it said are linked to Beijing’s aerospace programs.

The U.S. House of Representatives subsequently voted unanimously to condemn China for a “brazen violation” of U.S. sovereignty and efforts to “deceive the international community through false claims about its intelligence collection campaigns.” Secretary of State Antony Blinken also canceled a visit to Beijing that many hoped would stabilize ties that have cratered amid disputes over trade, human rights, Taiwan and China’s claim to the South China Sea.

While China denies the balloon was a military asset, it has yet to say what government department or company was responsible.

After initially expressing regret over the balloon’s entry into U.S. airspace, China has returned spying accusations against Washington, alongside its threats of retaliation.

This really shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise to anyone who keeps tabs on China’s usual tactics. In the ten days since the balloon was shot down, the United States has levied sanctions against six Chinese “entities” associated with the country’s aerospace program. We also canceled the Secretary of State’s visit to Beijing to meet with Xi Jinping.

This was seen as an obvious and deliberate slap in the face to the Chinese government, and for good reasons. So we can probably expect to see some sanctions coming our way and perhaps the removal of some diplomats from our country as a face-saving measure. (Good riddance. Don’t let the door hit ya where the Good Lord split ya.)

Of course, China has the ability to do much more than that if they wished to really bring down the hammer. As we learned all too well during the height of the pandemic, China controls far, far too much of the global supply chain. They can cripple our economy and cause devastating shortages at the drop of a hat if they wish to.

But that remains unlikely because that weapon is a double-edged sword. Cutting off trade and deliveries to the United States cripples China’s economy as well, and they’re still reeling from the losses they sustained during the pandemic. Direct military action against America is also probably off the table. Might they use this as an excuse to move against Taiwan instead? Anything is possible, I suppose, but that also seems unlikely. Xi Jinping is an authoritarian tyrant, but he’s not insane.

The one thing this demonstrates yet again, however, is that China no longer fears us or worries about anything we might do in reprisal. The balloon was a clear message along those lines and their stance during the aftermath further demonstrates that fact. America’s dominant position as a global hegemon is now in question, and almost all of this shift happened on this administration’s watch, starting with the botched withdrawal from Afghanistan. When your adversaries don’t fear you, they become emboldened. And that’s what we’re seeing with China this week.

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