The executive branch of the United States government has declared that President Joe Biden commanded US fighter jets to shoot down a mysterious airborne object that had been sighted above the Alaskan coastline.
At a briefing on Friday, John Kirby, the NSC Coordinator for Strategic Communications, mentioned that an object had been detected hovering high in the sky at 40,000ft above US territory and posed a “reasonable threat” to the security of civilian planes.
According to Kirby, the object was approximately the size of a vehicle but much smaller than the balloon that was shot down the week prior.
South Carolina officials notified Fox News that they had located an “intact” package that had been dropped from a Chinese surveillance balloon in the nearby waters.
Last weekend, US military fighter jets brought down a payload, which is said to be the size of a bus, into the Atlantic Ocean, which has remained there ever since.
Recovery of the payload may be hampered due to strong winds of 35mph in the area and the possibility of inclement weather.
The FBI lab in Quantico, Virginia, has taken possession of the fragments collected thus far to be examined. But, until now, US intelligence has uncovered that the balloon, which stayed in US airspace for eight days, is “an element of a Chinese surveillance balloon program” – an assertion China continues to repudiate.
PHOTO: Clearest image of the Chinese spy balloon taken over Missouri by TSchlitt-Photography pic.twitter.com/L0tpUwEgIx
— Insider Paper (@TheInsiderPaper) February 3, 2023
Jens Stoltenberg, the Secretary General of NATO, declared that the balloon episode “exhibits a tendency of Chinese behaviour” that involves the deployment of “an array of intelligence and surveillance systems” around the world.
China’s Alarming Aggression
The recent event of the US fighter jets shooting down a mysterious airborne object detected above the Alaskan coastline is an alarming sign of China’s aggression towards the US. This incident has caused many to question the implications of this act and what it may mean for US-China relations moving forward.
In response, many military generals have pointed to China’s previous acts of aggression as evidence that they intend to challenge US authority in the region. For instance, earlier this year, China conducted a series of military drills near Taiwan, violating international law and raising tensions between the two countries. Additionally, Chinese President Xi Jinping recently declared that Taiwan “is an inseparable part of Chinese territory,” further demonstrating China’s attempts to dominate East Asia.
The implications of such acts are clear: by testing how far it can challenge US power without consequence, China is attempting to extend its influence across East Asia and make itself an even more formidable geopolitical actor on the world stage. This would be detrimental to US interests and those countries that rely on America for security and stability in East Asia.
These recent events clearly illustrate just how aggressive China has been getting with regard to its foreign policy objectives in East Asia. In order to counter such aggression, the United States must remain vigilant and respond strongly if necessary to prevent Chinese assertiveness from going unchecked. Furthermore, continued dialogue between both countries is needed if we are ever going to achieve peace and stability in this part of the world.
How Should We Respond?
The US’ best course of action in light of China’s attempts to expand its influence across East Asia is multi-faceted:
- The US should engage in diplomatic dialogue with China, discussing the international law implications of China’s recent actions and actively encouraging a peaceful resolution to tensions between the two nations. This could involve multilateral negotiations, such as those proposed by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), or more bilateral talks with China.
- The US should take a harder line on sanctions for violations of international law, both as an expression of disapproval and as an incentive for better behavior from China in the future.
- The US must also work to bolster its regional alliances; this could include strengthening military cooperation with regional partners such as Japan and South Korea and increasing economic aid to other nations in East Asia.
- The US needs to maintain military readiness in the region by monitoring Chinese movements closely and responding swiftly when challenges arise.
Military generals have expressed that these measures are necessary to prevent an escalation of conflict between China and the US in East Asia. For example, Former General Joseph Dunford Jr. has argued that “we have to continue reassuring our allies while at the same time making sure that we are postured militarily so that we can respond if deterrence fails.” Similarly, Former Admiral Philip S Davidson has advocated to “the importance of readiness through exercises… [to] make clear that America stands ready to act if needed.”
In addition to maintaining diplomatic initiatives and military readiness, the US must continue supporting democracy efforts across East Asia.
According to the Pacific Forum CSIS Publication ‘Doing More and Expecting Less: The Future of US Alliances in the Asia Pacific,’ “there is a wide range of options available to the US and its partners as they contemplate ways to adapt the existing alliance system to the regional security environment. The most ambitious version of alliance integration would be a system similar to NATO. On the other end of the spectrum, the US could reduce its reliance on the alliances, allowing them to atrophy while reinforcing the importance of “coalitions of the willing” and other regional organizations. This would force its alliance partners to take a more autonomous security posture. An intermediate approach that could lead to stronger alliance integration is to establish trilateral or quadrilateral coordination mechanisms.
Reducing military deployments to the region would likely lead to more reliance on ad hoc functional responses to crises and increase the importance of ASEAN-centered regional organizations as the basis for the regional security architecture.”
Finally, another critical element for preserving US interests in the region is developing deeper economic ties with countries throughout East Asia; this would ensure greater market access for American companies while simultaneously reducing Beijing’s ability to dominate local economies through its Belt & Road Initiative (BRI). In addition, the Comprehensive & Progressive Agreement For Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) could provide a helpful platform by creating stronger links between Pacific Rim countries and allowing them greater autonomy over their own economic decisions; this would help counteract any negative impact resulting from trade disputes between China and America.
Overall, there are several strategies Washington can employ in response to recent Chinese aggression; each will require careful negotiation, but ultimately they could all contribute towards ensuring both long-term peace within East Asia and continued success for American interests there.
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