A Republican congressman suggested that the Chinese spy balloon that traversed the nation earlier this month was intended to “humiliate ” the United States during Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s planned high-stakes meeting in Beijing.
“I don’t think it’s a coincidence that it was timed to coincide with Secretary Blinken’s visit, though we don’t have proof of that yet,” Rep. Mike Gallagher of Wisconsin told John Catsimatidis in an interview on WABC 770 that aired Sunday.
Gallagher, the chair of the newly established House Select Committee on China, said he thinks the incident is “well within the Communist Party’s playbook” of attempting to “humiliate” the US on the eve of such a consequential visit.
“It just would not surprise me if this whole thing were intended to send a message to us while our secretary of state was visiting,” he said. “And the message is: ‘Look what we can get away with. And you won’t do anything about it. You’ll still come crawling back.’”
“So it tells us something fundamental about the Chinese Communist Party,” he said.
The Biden administration on Feb. 3 canceled Blinken’s visit to Beijing, where he was slated to meet with President Xi Jinping the following week, after the Chinese spy balloon was detected.
“The first step is getting the surveillance asset out of our airspace, and that’s what we’re focused on,” Blinken said. “We are going to remain engaged with the [Chinese government] as this ongoing issue is resolved.”
US fighter jets downed the balloon off the coast of South Carolina last Saturday, and Navy crews are in the process of salvaging parts of the orb from the Atlantic.
Gallagher said the spy balloon episode is precisely why the House select committee was established.
“We want, in a bipartisan fashion, to push back against threats to our security, against threats to our sovereignty, and ensure that the Chinese Communist Party can’t get away with things like this,” Gallagher said.