Biden keeps hyping airship incident ahead of State of Union address; 'China-US ties increasingly dangerous in 2023'
Published: Feb 07, 2023 10:03 PM
Biden Photo: CFP

Biden Photo: CFP

Different political forces within the US, including President Joe Biden and the Republican Party, are still hyping up the incident of a Chinese civilian unmanned airship in the US media in order to gain political interests ahead of the annual State of the Union address, rather than making efforts to cool down the matter. 

Chinese experts said on Tuesday that it shows that the chaotic, messy and sick political situation in Washington means that China-US tensions are unlikely to ease in the near future. It also proves that the Biden administration is incapable of setting so-called guardrails for bilateral ties under the complex situation within the US.

China will keep calm and observe what the US does next, and whether Biden creates conditions for engagement or Washington allows bilateral ties to keep worsening, China is ready to handle any possible moves by the US, experts noted. 

Biden said on Monday that the US "did the right thing" when it shot down a "suspected Chinese spy balloon" on Saturday and maintained that he always wanted to bring it down "as soon as it was appropriate," CNN reported. Speaking to reporters on the South Lawn of the White House after returning from Camp David, Biden was asked if the incident changes the US-China relationship. He replied: "No."

However, Chinese analysts consider that the recent incident and the hysterical overreaction of shooting down the airship are proof that the Biden administration is incapable of removing obstacles that were created by hawkish and conservative internal forces to realize effective engagement with China and to manage accidents with China via communication and coordination.

In response to the claim by the US that they will not return the debris to China, Mao Ning, a spokesperson of the Chinese Foreign Ministry, said at a routine press conference on Tuesday that the Chinese government will firmly safeguard its legitimate rights. "The airship belongs to China, not the US."

According to the VOA, the "balloon incident" will impact Biden's upcoming State of the Union address, as the president might focus more on how to deal with "increasing pressures from China."

Lü Xiang, an expert on US studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times that "as the leader of the ruling party who is actually governing the US, Biden should cool down the incident and manage the impact appropriately, rather than overreact and hype the tensions alongside the opposition Republicans."

But now the fact is that as the Republicans are trying to make the full use of the incident to accuse Biden of being weak when dealing with China, Biden is trying to use the incident to prove he dares to be tough against China ahead of the state of union, Lü said.

China needs to be careful that the US might take further actions in retribution over the incident in the coming weeks after Washington feels it has been put in an embarrassing position. Shooting down the civilian unmanned airship with expensive missiles launched by an advanced F-22 fighter jet only serves to make the US look even more anxious and disgraceful, analysts warned. 

Jin Canrong, associate dean of the School of International Studies at the Renmin University of China, told the Global Times on Tuesday that the incident reflects "that whether we like it or not, the new Cold War launched by the US against China has already begun."

While the US is trying to engage with China, it has never stopped its sanctions and containment measures in the fields of science, technology, geopolitics and strategy, and the latest airship incident reveals that hostility against China within the US is ridiculously high, and is hard to control and manage. This is despite China's efforts to be fully sincere and transparent to minimize the negative impact caused by the incident, Jin said. 

The recovery of China-US ties and easing the tension cannot be achieved only by efforts from the Chinese side, which will be of no use alone if the US continues to be hostile, experts said. 

"The partisan struggles within the US will keep bringing negative impacts for China-US ties. The Washington elites are getting overconfident as they believe they can emerge as the victor in the competition against China and Russia once and for all after the outbreak of the Russia-Ukraine conflict. Some even believe that China's GDP won't surpass the US', so all this make the decision-makers in the US become increasingly audacious when dealing with China," Jin said. 

"More importantly, the US will keep being provocative on the Taiwan question. Not only does House Speaker Kevin McCarthy plan to make another provocative visit to the island, US politicians are also planning to invite Tsai Ing-wen, leader of the secessionist authorities on the island, to the US. In general, the prospects for China-US relations in 2023 are getting increasingly pessimistic and dangerous," Jin said.