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US should not let its China policy drift because of sensationalizing of balloon: China Daily editorial | Updated: 2023-02-07 19:23
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Photo taken on Sept 24, 2015 shows the national flags of China (right) and the United States on the Constitution Avenue in Washington. [Photo/Xinhua]

Despite Beijing going to great lengths to explain that the balloon that the United States has spun into great spy caper was a civilian one which unintentionally strayed into US airspace, the China-bashers in Washington have enthusiastically jumped on the opportunity to blow it up as evidence of the so-called China threat that they are tirelessly trying to propagate.

The meteorological research balloon was shot down by the US on Saturday after it had been blown across the US by strong winds. That the nation's "freak-out" over the "mysterious Chinese balloon" will reportedly prompt US President Joe Biden to include it in his State of the Union Speech to Congress on Tuesday exposes how much the China-bashers have hijacked his administration's China policy.

President Biden said on Monday that relations between Washington and Beijing would not be weakened by the downing of the balloon, saying that "we made it clear what we were going to do. They understand our position".

Yet the Biden administration is going to have its work cut out stopping relations from drifting further off track as the anti-China caucus in Washington is intent on taking advantage of the US people's lack of knowledge over the incident to portray the "spy balloon" as proof of China acting with hostile intent.

China has never let the frequent and deliberate provocations of the US hinder the overall development of bilateral ties. Among such acts are the surveillance and monitoring equipment that Chinese fishermen and the military have spotted, discovered or recovered in large numbers in Chinese waters and airspace since the 1950s. Equipment that is not innocent in purpose, means and consequence.

Yet China chooses not to let these divert its attention from the bigger picture of bilateral relations, nor the frequent, if not regular, provocative transits and overflights in the South China Sea, the Taiwan Straits and the East China Sea by the US Navy and Air Force, which the US disingenuously portrays as "freedom of navigation" operations.

The restraint China has been exercising over these incursions for covert surveillance is in stark contrast to the hysteria that has been generated in the US by a very obvious, since it could be seen from the ground, slow-moving meteorological balloon.

China has been doing all it can to implement the consensus reached between the leaders of the two countries in their meeting in Bali, Indonesia, in November, and carry forward the positive momentum that was generated by that meeting.

But the puffing up of the balloon beyond all proportion and its Top Gun-style denouement expose the Biden administration's inability to withstand the pressure from the anti-China caucus.

That highlights the fundamental difference between how China and the US handle issues related to each other. While China can always match its words with deeds due to the effective executive power of its efficient political system, the US cannot. It is the institutional maladies plaguing the US political system that have enabled the balloon to be inflated into a frightener of the nation.

The advanced and costly missile that the US used to take the balloon down shows exactly how the US is cent wise and dollar foolish in making a spectacle of its own paranoia.

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