The Chinese spy balloon that crossed the United States earlier this month surfaced as Secretary of State Antony Blinken was scheduled to visit Beijing, according to Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.), who said he does not think “it’s a coincidence.”
Given the circumstances, Blinken decided to postpone his intended trip to China when the balloon was found, The Hill reported.
The Chinese Communist Party’s plan to “humiliate” the United States on the international stage, according to Gallagher, would be “well within the playbook” if the balloon were timed to enter American airspace around Blinken’s visit.
“It just would not surprise me if this whole thing were intended to send a message to us while our secretary of state was visiting,” he said. “And the message is: ‘Look what we can get away with. And you won’t do anything about it. You’ll still come crawling back.’”
“So it tells us something fundamental about the Chinese Communist Party,” the Wisconsin Republican added.
According to Gallagher, it was incidents like these that prompted the House to establish a special committee to study American ties with China. He declared that the committee’s members, whom he heads, want to make a “serious, sober effort” to counter threats from the nation.
“We want, in a bipartisan fashion, to push back against threats to our security, against threats to our sovereignty, and ensure that the Chinese Communist Party can’t get away with things like this,” Gallagher said.
Following the incident, tensions between the United States and China have increased in recent days. China has condemned the American reaction to the balloon, claiming it is excessive and that it shouldn’t have been shot down.
The balloon was allegedly doing meteorological research when it was blown off course, according to the Chinese government, but that explanation has been refuted by American officials.