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Chinese Balloon Downing: US Says It Recovers Key Parts

    Chinese Balloon Downing: US Says It Recovers Key Parts
    Last updated Feb 14, 2023
    Image credit: AP [via Forbes]

    Facts

    • The US military Monday said it has recovered key electronics, including sensors, from the alleged Chinese spy balloon it shot down off the coast of South Carolina on Feb. 4.[1]
    • Since shooting down the balloon, which China denies was being used for surveillance, the military has shot down three more unidentified objects this month.[2]
    • Previously, Xie Feng, China's Vice Foreign Minister, accused the US government of "indiscriminate use of force" and damaging efforts to improve Sino-American relations after the US shot down the balloon. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken canceled his scheduled trip to China in reaction to this incident.[3]
    • The object reportedly first entered US airspace in Alaska on Jan. 28 and then passed through Canadian airspace before returning to the US on Jan. 31.[4]
    • Beijing maintains that the balloon was for meteorological research and accidentally crossed into US airspace, while the Pentagon claims that it was for surveillance. Initially, Washington had stated that the object posed no threat to US national security and decided against shooting it down.[5]

    Spin

    Anti-China narrative

    The US was sending Blinken to China in hopes of improving relations between the two countries. China spoiled this plan by sending this spy balloon into US airspace and leaving Biden with no choice but to shoot it down and keep Blinken stateside. Obviously, there will always be behind-the-scenes competition between the two nations, but China can’t publicly humiliate the US and expect détente.

    Pro-China narrative

    The US is incompetent in dealing with crises because of the constant fighting between its political parties. The PRC's civilian airship wasn’t a threat, yet Biden shot it down to look tough in the face of Republican criticisms. Now he continues to be attacked by his political foes, but also has put US-China relations at risk with his overreaction. China can’t trust the US as a strategic partner because of its political dysfunction.

    Cynical narrative

    This whole story is an overreaction by the media. Whether you believe the balloon was a spying tool for China or it was just an off-course weather balloon, it certainly didn’t deserve the attention it received. Either the networks decided they needed to gin up ratings with scare tactics, and/or government representatives on both sides were feeding the frenzy to quash a US-China détente on purpose. But this balloon was nothing to freak out about.

    Nerd narrative

    There's a 9% chance there will be active warfare between the US and China before 2027, according to the Metaculus prediction community.

    Establishment split

    CRITICAL

    PRO

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