History was just made and we were all able to witness it live on television. Not since Imperial Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor has the American military shot down a foreign aircraft in U.S. airspace. The recent Chinese violation of U.S. airspace and territorial integrity by directing a surveillance balloon over almost the entire length of the continental United States is the latest example of China’s aggressive actions against the international rules-based order.
On the eve of Secretary of State Blinken’s departure for Beijing, a massive Chinese surveillance balloon was spotted high in the Big Sky country of Montana. The Secretary’s trip was highly anticipated as an opportunity to potentially reset the relationship between the United States and the People’s Republic of China. President Biden and General Secretary Xi met on the sidelines of the G20 meeting in Bali in November 2022. Later that same month, Secretary of Defense Austin and Minister of Defense Wei held discussions in Cambodia during the ASEAN Defense Ministers’ Meeting-Plus (ADMM+). Both of these engagements were touted as setting the conditions for a productive meeting between America’s senior diplomat and Chinese senior leaders including General Secretary Xi himself.
This is but the latest example of provocative actions by the CCP regime in Beijing flouting all norms of international behavior. The timing of the balloon’s intelligence collection mission comes after a year of dangerous People’s Liberation Army (PLA) operations against U.S. and allied aircraft in international airspace.
- February 2022, a PLA Navy Luyang class destroyer used a military-grade laser to illuminate a Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) P-8 Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft in international airspace over the Arafura Sea northeast of Darwin, Australia.
- In the Spring of 2022, the PLA Air Force repeatedly “buzzed,” within 20 to 100 feet, Canadian CP-140 Aurora maritime patrol aircraft involved in enforcing United Nations Security Council resolutions (UNSCR) against North Korea in international airspace. Notably, these resolutions were ostensibly supported by the PRC.
- Read more…