Gatestone Institute senior fellow and China expert Gordon Chang reacted to U.S. fighter jets shooting down the Chinese spy balloon and the ramifications the situation will have as U.S.-China tensions grow.
GORDON CHANG: Just as China saw our reaction to their balloon and not only to the military’s reaction, but also the effect of public opinion on the Biden administration, now it’s our turn to observe, because we’re going to see how the Chinese react, how quickly a statement comes out, who gives the statement. If we go back to the April 2001 Hainan plane incident where a Chinese fighter clipped a U.S. Navy reconnaissance plane, EP-3, we saw China not being able to react. It took them days to do so. Now we’re going to see how fast China reacts. I don’t know what the answer to that is, but we will have some very important clues, because right now, Beijing is very opaque, much more opaque than it’s been in a very long time, and so this is going to be a great window into how they operate.
I think [Chinese officials are] happy about [their balloon getting so far] because they got a lot of intelligence that they can’t get from their satellites. Remember, this balloon was 60,000 ft. A satellite in low-Earth orbit has to be in space, which means it’s about 400,000 ft. minimum, so there’s a lot that China learned from this, but also, they saw that we did not take it out when it first entered our airspace, which was about a week ago in Alaska, and it traversed uninhabited territory where we could have easily shot it down and not affected anybody or put anyone in jeopardy on the ground. And the same goes for Canada. Once it left Alaska, it went through Canada, also sparsely in uninhabited areas. We could have taken it down there as well.
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