China ‘Brazenly Pushing Limits to See How Far They Can Go,’ Homeland Security Panel Chairman Says

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High-ranking House Republicans and a defense expert are continuing to sound the alarm after the U.S. military shot down a Chinese spy balloon about what’s at stake for the United States’ relationship with the communist nation. 

China is brazenly pushing the limits, to see how far they can go. President [Joe] Biden’s administration has consistently demonstrated weakness, showing a willingness to act against adversaries like the Chinese Communist Party only after the public outcry was so deafening that they could not ignore it,” Rep. Mark Green, R-Tenn., chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, told The Daily Signal in an emailed statement. 

“This situation is still developing, and the House Committee on Homeland Security will continue monitoring this incident as more information comes out and demand full transparency for the American people,” said Green, also a member of the House Foreign Relations Committee. 

The U.S. military shot down a Chinese spy balloon off the South Carolina coast on Feb. 4, two days after it was first publicly reported and following a rash of criticism of the Biden administration for its delayed action. 

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Rep. Jim Banks, R-Ind., a member of the House Select Committee on Strategic Competition Between the United States and the Chinese Communist Party, weighed in on the threat posed by the CCP.

“More and more Americans are recognizing that the Chinese Communist Party is the single greatest threat to our security and prosperity,” Banks told The Daily Signal in an emailed statement.

“There is broad and bipartisan public support for lawmakers to treat China as an enemy and hold [Chinese President Xi Jinping] accountable. That’s what I plan to do on the House Select Committee on China this Congress,” the Indiana lawmaker said.

Dakota Wood, senior research fellow at The Heritage Foundation’s Center for National Defense, commented on the U.S.’ relationship with China following the spy balloon incident, and whether the world’s leading superpowers are heading for war against one another. (The Daily Signal is the news outlet of The Heritage Foundation.)

“Well, one of the more concerning reports out of this whole thing is the fact that the Pentagon rang up their buddies over in China, a hotline, and said, ‘We’re concerned about this thing, whatever it is,’ and nobody on the Chinese side answered the phone,” Wood told The Daily Signal in a podcast interview. “So, even during the heights of the Cold War, our U.S. Pentagon and their counterparts in the Soviet Union would at least keep these communication lines open.”

“We’ve got communication lines with Russia as it continues to be involved in the war in Syria. So, the ability to talk to each other really helps to mitigate the risk of misinterpreting something, or a road to war, or something along those lines,” Wood said, adding:

So, when the other side doesn’t even pick up the phone, what does that say? And to me, it says they’re either trying to play the United States, they think the Biden team is weak, and so who cares what the White House in the U.S. says? All those. It’s a recipe for disaster.

After the U.S. military shot down the Chinese spy balloon, it also shot down three more objects—a second on Friday in Alaska, the third object on Saturday in Canada, and a fourth object on Sunday over Lake Huron, Michigan, ABC News reported

“We haven’t seen any indication or anything that points specifically to the idea that these three objects were part of [China’s] spying program, or that they were definitively involved in external intelligence-collection efforts,” National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters on Tuesday

China claimed on Monday that the U.S. has similarly “flown high-altitude balloons over [its] airspace” more than 10 times since the beginning of 2022, The Wall Street Journal reported

“The first thing the U.S. needs to do is change its ways and reflect on itself, and not to smear and incite confrontation,” Wang Wenbin, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman, said at a press briefing. 

However, Adrienne Watson, U.S. National Security Council spokeswoman, said that’s not true. 

“Any claim that the U.S. government operates surveillance balloons over [China] is false,” Watson wrote in a tweet. “It is China that has a high-altitude surveillance balloon program for intelligence collection, that it has used to violate the sovereignty of the U.S. and over 40 countries across [five] continents.”

Watson added: 

This is the latest example of China scrambling to do damage control. It has repeatedly and wrongly claimed the surveillance balloon it sent over the U.S. was a weather balloon and has failed to offer any credible explanations for its intrusion into our airspace, airspace of others.

The White House did not respond to The Daily Signal’s request for further comment. 

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