US mobilizes allies to join paranoid 'China threat' chorus over balloon
Hype is an anticlimactic show to leave Washington embarrassed: experts
Published: Feb 14, 2023 10:10 PM Updated: Feb 14, 2023 10:46 PM
US overreacts by shooting down Chinese weather balloon. Cartoon: Carlos Latuff

US overreacts by shooting down Chinese weather balloon. Cartoon: Carlos Latuff

The US' balloon paranoia has only been aggravated after it shot down three more unidentified flying objects since shooting down a Chinese civilian airship, with Washington mobilizing its allies, including Japan, South Korea and NATO, to trump up a "China threat" narrative. 

But Chinese analysts said the longer the US continues such a hype, the more embarrassing the conclusion would be for this US-staged farce. 

Except for the Chinese civilian airship shot down on February 4, the source of the other three objects is unknown. The White House on Monday defended the shootdowns of three unidentified objects while acknowledging that officials had no indication the objects were intended for surveillance, AP reported on Monday 

Japanese vice minister for foreign affairs Mori Takeo and South Korean first vice foreign minister Cho Hyun-dong voiced support for the US shootdowns after meeting US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman on Monday in Washington as part of the "trilateral dialogue."

"As an ally of the US, we trust what the US officially stated on this issue," US media quoted Cho as saying.

Commenting on a balloon passing Japanese airspace in January 2022, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said "we hope Japan holds an objective and fair stance, and would not follow the US hype." 

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said on Monday that the bloc should be vigilant to China and also Russia's so-called surveillance activities, citing the US shootdowns of balloons and other objects. 

Wang urged the NATO to stop baseless accusations against China and stop fabricating an "imaged enemy." The US is the world's No.1 surveillance country, Wang said, citing US records on wiretapping European leaders for decades and its "Telesreen" operation of infiltration.

Lü Xiang, a research fellow at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times on Tuesday that when the US requests something, it is difficult for its allies to adopt a different tone. 

The US and its allies are a chorus promoting the "China threat," and Washington, by prolonging the balloon farce, is a leading actor in a show named "For security of Americans and US allies," Lü elaborated. 

To underline such a US role and smear China, the US earlier held briefings for nearly 150 foreign diplomats from 40 countries about the Chinese civilian balloon, in order to paint it as part of a massive spy program. 

Analysts warned such high-profile hype will likely have an anticlimactic conclusion, with the US left embarrassed.  

Citing the balloon incident, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken postponed a visit to China. The visit was not officially confirmed by China. 

Two weeks into the farce, Bloomberg and Reuters reported Monday that the two countries are weighing a face-to-face meet between top diplomats on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference scheduled from Friday to Sunday. 

State Department Spokesperson Ned Price told a regular press briefing Monday there is "no meeting on the books," but Washington is "always assessing options for diplomacy."

If the meeting goes ahead, it would be a good opportunity for China and the US to cool down the ongoing balloon row and focus on more urgent and major issues in bilateral relations, Lü Xiang said. 

Li Haidong, a professor at the Institute of International Relations at the China Foreign Affairs University, told the Global Times on Tuesday that judging from the balloon incident, US elites have a very negative perception of China and keep reinforcing that to the public. 

Such a perception will eventually hinder Biden administration from dealing with China in a practical manner and acting with flexibility if necessary, Li said.