Saturday, June 22, 2024 | 07:33 WIB

Chinese spy balloon in US airspace

Jakarta, IO – Amid an international atmosphere still full of uncertainties as well as tensions, it has been reported that the US has spotted a Chinese spy balloon, flying over Billing, Maine for a few days. It was further reported that a US fighter aircraft shot down the balloon, claiming the debris. Afterwards, the US notified the People’s Republic of China of what it just did to the balloon, according to international conventions. 

As expected, China immediately protested and accused the US of violating international convention. Chin claimed that the balloon was for civilian purposes, and that is why it lodged a protest when it was shot down. 

The incident resulted in several repercussions, such as the cancellation of a visit by US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken to China, as a follow-up of Presidents’ Xi and Biden meeting in Bali last November. This was followed by a visit of Foreign Secretary Qin Gang to Russia Foreign Secretary Lavrov in Moscow, signaling an ever-closer relationship between China and Russia. Up till recently, China refrained from using the term “invasion” for the Russian military campaign against Ukraine, while also not openly supporting it. 

A spy balloon is in itself nothing new, and it has been used before, even during WWII. It is thus an old technique, cheap to operate, albeit not very accurate in its secret gathering function. 

This incident is unfortunate indeed, and will only add complications to maintaining bilateral relations between the US and China. It may also inspire closer relations between China and Russia, which is not good for Ukraine in its fight against Russia with huge help from the US and its Allies, including more than one hundred tanks from the US, Germany, Poland, and UK to strengthen the Ukrainian army, as President Zelensky asked for in preparation for possible attacks in Spring of this year. In any case, it is just unfortunate that this had to happen, with few benefits for China had it worked as designed, but many risks when it failed as in this case. This is literally what ‘balloon proof’ means: its significance and consequence.