A US Air Force U-2 pilot looks down at the suspected Chinese surveillance balloon as it hovers over the central continental US on 3 February 2023 before later being shot down by the Air Force off the coast of South Carolina, in this photo released by the US Air Force through the Defense Department on 22 February 2023. (US Air Force/Department of Defense/Handout via Reuters)

Mass hysteria over spy balloons: The pot calling the kettle black?

Former Zaobao editor Lim Jim Koon believes that the balloon saga between China and the US in February gives much food for thought around the role of political leaders and mass media in sensationalising the trivial incidents.
A 3D printed Tik Tok logo is seen in front of a US flag in this illustration taken 6 October 2020. (Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo/Reuters)

Will the US ban TikTok completely?

The US House Committee on Foreign Affairs has advanced a bill in Congress potentially giving the Biden administration power to ban TikTok in the US. Zaobao’s China Desk weighs up the various opinions discussing the issue.
US Navy sailors assigned to Assault Craft Unit 4 prepare material recovered in the Atlantic Ocean from a high-altitude Chinese balloon shot down by the US Air Force off the coast of South Carolina after docking in Virginia Beach, Virginia for transport to federal agents at Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek on 10 February 2023 in this image released by the US Navy in Washington, US, 13 February 2023. (Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Ryan Seelbach/US Navy/Handout via Reuters)

Can the US and China get past the balloon saga?

Even as China and the US continue to bicker over the Chinese balloon that was shot down after entering US airspace, China’s top diplomat Wang Yi’s visit to Europe is on track, including his attendance at the Munich Security Conference in Germany and a possible meeting with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken. Zaobao’s correspondent Yang Danxu looks at whether this trip could finally turn the page on the matter and refocus US-China priorities.
A jet flies by a suspected Chinese spy balloon as it floats off the coast in Surfside Beach, South Carolina, US, 4 February 2023. (Randall Hill/Reuters)

China’s military-civil fusion promotes militarisation of meteorological balloons

Japanese academic Masaaki Yatsuzuka finds China’s explanations and criticism of the US in the aftermath of the balloon incident unpersuasive, more so in light of its military-civilian fusion strategy.
Delegates attend the handover ceremony during the G20 Summit in Bali, Indonesia, on 16 November 2022. (Willy Kurniawan/Pool/AFP)

Chinese balloon saga jeopardises 'Asian peace'

For years after the Cold War, given its military dominance, the US saw itself as instrumental to maintaining an “Asian peace”. With that mindset, the more it perceives China as a threat to its Asian primacy, the more it will be on the defensive. In truth, Asian peace was achieved through various efforts, and Asia-Pacific countries all have a stake in seeing it maintained.
Pedestrians reflected in a store window in the Wangfujing shopping area in Beijing, China, on 10 February 2023. (Bloomberg)

External challenges could hinder China’s economic recovery

After three years of Covid-19 disruption, China’s economy and society are starting to get back on track. However, it is facing stiff external pressure, as shown by the further China-US fallout from the recent “balloon incident". Zaobao correspondent Yu Zeyuan looks at the challenges China’s economic recovery faces from the outside world.
Security and military officials arrive for a closed-door briefing for senators about the Chinese spy balloon at the US Capitol, 9 February 2023 in Washington, DC. (Drew Angerer/AFP)

Is the US in hysterics over a Chinese balloon?

Zaobao’s associate editor Han Yong Hong notes that amid the US’s strong response to the recent incident of a Chinese balloon intruding into US airspace, there are other more pressing issues at hand, whereby the US and China need to communicate and cooperate. Both sides will need to keep their focus and work out their priorities.
FBI Special Agents ready to process material recovered from the Chinese balloon that was shot down by the US military jet off the coast of South Carolina, in an image released by the FBI in Washington, US, 9 February 2023. (FBI/Handout via Reuters)

The balloon is down: Whither US-China relations now?

US academic Zhu Zhiqun notes that the Chinese balloon incident highlights just how fragile US-China relations are, and the uphill climb it will be to rebuild mutual trust.
This picture provided by the US Navy shows sailors assigned to Explosive Ordnance Disposal Group 2 recovering a Chinese balloon off the coast of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, in the Atlantic ocean on 5 February 2023. (Petty Officer 1st Class Tyler Thompson/US Navy/AFP)

Turbulence caused by Chinese balloon set to last

US-China tensions have heightened in the aftermath of the Chinese balloon incident. The Republicans are seizing the opportunity to criticise the Biden administration over the threat to national security, while China accuses the US of overreacting and violating the spirit of international law and international practice. Zaobao correspondent Yang Danxu notes that if the situation is not managed properly, the strained relations could have an impact on other issues, such as the South China Sea.