A test from the CCP

by Tom Cole

The Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) increasingly aggressive and competitive behavior toward our nation is of great concern. It certainly took another bold step earlier this month as a spy aircraft was sent across our country. Unfortunately, during this national security challenge, the Biden Administration once again failed to meet the task in the face of this overt aggression.

This spy balloon first entered the U.S. through Alaska’s airspace and traversed southeast across the state and Canadian airspace. After being detected by civilians in Montana, the Department of Defense identified the balloon and concluded it was not an imminent military or physical threat, and that falling debris from the aircraft was a more significant threat to Americans than taking no action at that time.

During this time, this vehicle, clearly for intelligence surveillance with direct ties with the People’s Liberation Army of China, was allowed to traverse across the country over numerous national security assets. The spycraft contained multiple antennas meant to pinpoint locations of communications and also contained solar panels to produce power to operate multiple active intelligence collection sensors. Once the balloon was clear of land, the U.S. military shot it down off the Carolina coastline.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry announced that it was a civilian machine used for weather research that drifted off course. However, based on intelligence information, we know that is not true. We can only assume this balloon traveled across the continental United States and over our military bases to intercept critical and sensitive information. While it is unclear what information the CCP aimed to steal, it is very possible the alertness and resolve of the United States were being tested. After the balloon was shot down, leaders of the CCP announced the U.S. had overreacted and violated international convention and therefore reserved the right to respond further.

President Biden continues to show weakness on the global stage. Since his disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan almost two years ago, our adversaries, including the CCP, Iran, North Korea and Russia, continue to push the limits to see what they can get away with and how U.S. leaders will respond. I have great confidence and pride in our nation’s national defense structure, but continually less confidence in our current leadership on foreign affairs matters. 

President Joe Biden and his administration owe Congress and the American people answers on this balloon and why it was not promptly detected and shot down like its less identifiable successors.

We are also left with serious questions about why the administration was silent for nearly a week while the spycraft passed over six states until noticed by civilians. Also, not knowing the full level of control over the aircraft’s direction and altitude, we must question the confidence in the object’s lack of threat to civilian aircraft over time. The incident introduced risk throughout its entire path to Americans and U.S. security interests.

While President Biden will not show strength and resolve when confronting this strategic competition, I am glad the House of Representatives passed a bipartisan resolution condemning the CCP for this action. This resolution also ensures Congress receives briefings on the timeline of the balloon, intelligence threats and diplomatic communications.

However, the U.S. still must enact stronger and more stringent policies toward China. This includes harsher actions to ensure U.S. companies do not export technology to China that its military and security agencies can use. Our nation must also continue to show strong support for Taiwan through military modernization and expansion of trade and economic ties. We must signal to the CCP that the U.S. will not tolerate its acts of aggression.

China will continue to test our resolve and its ability to penetrate our sovereign borders, networks and proprietary information. Unfortunately, thus far, the administration is failing to rise to the challenge.