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Chinese spy balloon is a Sputnik moment for America

Like Sputnik, the Chinese spy balloon has drastically changed Americans' sense of security

In 1957, the sense of security the United States had come to accept after America’s victory in World War II drastically changed.

The NBC radio broadcast on the night of Oct. 4 told its audience, "Listen now… for the sound that forevermore separates the old from the new," as the sound of the Sputnik satellite came through the airwaves. 

This moment didn’t just signify a groundbreaking technological achievement with the launch of the first satellite into orbit. It also conveyed to the rest of the world the Soviet Union was outpacing the United States technologically a decade into the Cold War. 

The American public was shocked to the point of panic. They were certainly put on notice about the seriousness of the Soviet Union as a rival.

A silver lining in the Biden administration allowing the Chinese spy balloon to violate our airspace is that the American public has received a similar wake-up call to the brazenness of Chinese spying. As a member of the House Armed Services Committee and Intelligence Committee, I can tell you the United States has been under an espionage assault from China for years, but much of it has been behind the scenes.  

They didn’t need to send a balloon given their rapidly expanding constellation of spy satellites. But I’m glad they did. It was a very visible symbol of what so many of us have been ringing the alarm bells about for years. But, until last week, the magnitude and sheer scale of the Chinese operations were often cleverly hidden behind the scenes.

In fact, FBI Director Chris Wray testified before Congress last year that the bureau was opening counterintelligence investigations into China every 12 hours. MI5 Director General Ken McCallum also shared in a separate joint appearance with Wray that his agency is now running seven times more investigations into Chinese operations than it was in 2018. 

The CCP is spreading its espionage efforts throughout our agriculture industry, education systems, TikTok, Wall Street, and much more. 

With this spy balloon, CCP General Secretary Xi Jinping wanted to dare the Biden administration to something about it. Instead, our government dithered. Xi tested the political will to respond and we failed. The Washington Post reported that China has deployed similar balloons in the past over Hawaii and Gaum. Clearly Beijing deployed one over our ICBM fields in the US mainland because they believed they could get away with it. 


Concerningly, Bloomberg reported, "U.S. authorities were well aware of the unidentified object that had entered American airspace on Jan. 28, that had then left and re-entered over North Idaho on Tuesday."

But due to a planned trip by Secretary of State Anthony Blinken to Beijing this week, the administration was dead set on "keeping it on the down-low." 

Weakness is provocative and that has been on display for the entirety of this administration. 

The number one job of the federal government is to keep its citizens safe. Even CCP public relations stunts like this have grave consequences in sending a message to the rest of the world that the U.S. refused to act over a very visible, non-lethal spy balloon. 

China has a plan for global dominance and is executing it with little pushback from our government. 

Had Biden wanted to send a real message to Beijing, they should have rerouted Blinken’s trip from Beijing to Taipei.  

I hope this balloon serves as a wakeup call for our country. We can no longer be complacent with China’s rise because so many institutions are making money in the Chinese market. 

This brazen act by the CCP should be a catalyst - much like the Sputnik launch - for all Americans to accept the sobering reality that the Communist government in China is in a new cold war with the United States. 

Because of China’s growing military, economic and technological might, we cannot just assume we will win this time. 

With the admission from the Biden administration last week that the Pentagon was indeed tracking a Chinese spy balloon over Montana, I was shocked to discover we had simply allowed our greatest adversary to completely violate our sovereignty and airspace.

Much like Sputnik, this balloon didn’t pose any physical threat to those on the surface. Rather, it was intended to send a clear message from the Chinese Communist Party that they no longer recognize the United States as a threat.