- Two balloons put Beijing on the spot
- Russian imports Chinese military components
- China’s carmakers fill in the gaps in Russia
- Large trial against Hong Kong democrats begins
- KMT sends delegation to Beijing
- Invitation for Australia’s trade minister
- Heads: David Feng gets rid of Chinglish
China claims that the whole story about the balloon is blown out of proportion. But what are the Americans supposed to think when such an object floats over their own military territory? And another one simultaneously over Colombia. As is always the case with such incidents, two truths are being put out there – one from Washington and one from Beijing. Which one to believe is probably a question of one’s worldview. Even if the USA has the moral and legal high ground in this case, as Michael Radunski attests to this episode. In China, the focus seems to be on damage control.
The assumption that US Secretary of State Antony Blinken did not travel to Beijing solely because of the white ball in the air loses some of its credibility in light of a Wall Street Journal report. The Americans could be at least as displeased because Chinese companies shipped large quantities of dual-use components to Russia last year. In other words, components that can also be used for military purposes.
The Chinese may not have joined the US sanctions against Russia, but did they not indignantly proclaim to not support Russia militarily? The Russians claim that they are capable of equipping themselves technologically. But that is somehow hard to believe. Especially when taking a closer look at other industrial sectors. As Christian Domke-Seidel puts it, Russia has since become a dumping ground for Chinese carmakers.
If one already has this reputation, then it is hardly imaginable that one can manage without outside military help. Cynicism over.
Two balloons – one ‘unforced error’
No one would have wanted to be in Mao Ning’s shoes on Monday. The evidence so far on the balloon incident over the USA is too clear. And so the spokeswoman of the Chinese Foreign Ministry kept her tone low: Yes, the second balloon over South America also came from China. It, too, had unintentionally drifted into the airspace of other countries. But much like the one over the US, the second balloon was allegedly only used for civilian purposes to investigate the weather.
When asked how it could be that China supposedly lost control over two balloons within a few days, even Mao Ning had to pass: “I am not an expert.”
The US has the moral and legal advantage
But not only the Chinese Foreign Ministry is left feeling crestfallen at the beginning of the week. The incident involving an alleged spy object over the USA comes at an inopportune time for Xi Jinping. Morally and legally, the US has the upper hand. But the leadership in Beijing cannot possibly admit this publicly. Nevertheless, the search for a face-saving way out has long been in full swing.
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