THE US government and media like to paint China as out to destroy life as we know it. But certainly the mainstream media also approve when they put capitalist policies in place and they are working. That is unless those policies are proving more successful than the capitalist west.

Never was this posturing more clear than the last week when most media outlets were frenziedly reporting on the Chinese ‘spy balloon’. At the same time the same outlets who were condemning the Chinese for their alleged spying could not help but praise China for its handling of the economy ‘post Covid’ (though we are fully aware that we are not post Covid). This shift brings China into line with the rest of the world although their death rate is still considerably lower than America or Britains.

What of the spy balloon? The balloon was first spotted by bystanders in the state of Montana, according to Al Jazeera’s Kimberly Halkett who was reporting from Washington, DC.  “It was spotted by people on the ground who were wondering what was in the sky. That is how the US government first learned about this, incredibly,” she said. “It was then that the US government started tracking it.”

That statement in itself should give pause for thought. Why did onlookers spot the balloon before the military or government officials? This is a country that spends 12% of its $1.45 trillion annual budget on national security, yet all that surveillance was unable to spot a balloon which could be seen from the ground. The balloon which the US government was keen for people to believe was such a threat to their security. And just ponder that for a moment. This is the US government. The same country whose National Security Agency eavesdropped on Chancellor Angela Merkel’s phone calls a decade ago.  The White House never actually denied spying on Merkel, but it did say, back in 2013, that it was not currently spying on her phone calls and would not do so in the future.

China claimed that the balloon was a civilian research airship blown off course, not a tool for surveillance. Whether that claim is true, and it would seem absurd for a country such as China to use a balloon to spy on another nation, it’s still not on a par with hacking into one of your allies phone calls. Ian Boyd, an aerospace expert explains that “This isn’t really very advanced technology. It’s not serving any real military purpose.” Which also makes you wonder why the US had to destroy it. Surely if there was any real technology worth having onboard they could have got a 12 year old with a blow dart to bring it down for them.

But still, the Biden administration cancelled a planned visit to China by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken. So, China bad. But wait. The Chinese government has abandoned its Zero Covid policies and most factories and ports are running smoothly again so we have The New York Times with an article on how the Chinese economy is recovering and people are spending again. Because, of course, the targeted lockdowns, mass testing and quarantine – which successfully kept the virus at bay – were not anything a ‘free’ country like the US would do, but opening everything up (while thousands die) is exactly what a country like the US did do.

Much of this furore seems to have been generated in order that the US can continue its phoney war with China. The very real threat they face is a resurgent Chinese economy which, pre-pandemic, was eating into markets coveted by the US. Whilst they were in Zero Covid the Chinese economy stagnated, but now it looks likely to grow at around 5% a year, according to IMF’s latest forecast. The USA will struggle to manage 2% growth. Quite what the truth of these spying allegations is we will probably never know. What we do know is that increased tensions between two nuclear-armed superpowers is not good for world  peace and therefore for any of us.

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2 thought on “China and America in a balloon war”
  1. What’s your view on USA and their war with TikTok? “CEO Shou Zi Chew is expected to appear before Congress in March to face questions from lawmakers over US user safety and security” etc. I’ve begun using Tiktok for promotions of local social justice and climate justice activism. But some local people are wary. Has the American hype gotten to them?

  2. I totally agree with your analysis. First thing I thought when I heard about it was, surely they could spy on the US more effectively from a satellite?

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