‘Ballooning’ US-China Rivalry Exposes America’s True Allies

The diplomatic crisis in the relations between the United States and Communist China helped America count its true allies. A number of nations have decided to side with neither, thus refusing to condemn Beijing espionage, a report reveals.

That Balloon Really Spike US-Chinese Rivalry

The Chinese spy balloon incident heightened tensions between the world’s top two powers – after the People’s Republic of China decided to demonstrate audacity and arrogance by sending espionage airships into America’s airspace.

On February 4, the US military finally destroyed the surveillance airship, but China has been piling cheekiness on top of impudence. It keeps claiming it was just an adrift air balloon and is accusing America of violating international law by shooting its flying object.

The entire episode helped other western or pro-western nations to raise the alarm over Chinese spying balloons over their territories.

Also, it has demonstrated which countries are China’s open or secret friends – a list, which, for all practical purposes, may also count in those trying to “sit on the fence” and be on good terms with both the United States and the People’s Republic of China.

A number of those nations, which for various reasons are refusing to pick a side in the “balloon” tensions and/or to condemn Communist China, were revealed in an NBC News report.

Some Want Just the Benefits Without Taking a Stand

The mainstream media outlet’s report outlines how US allies have been drawn into the Sino-American dispute over the spy balloon.

European nations, such as Romania, have scrambled jets over reported espionage airship sightings. Britain has taken up the issue in security debates. Japan and South Korea have seen their political elites united over the Chinese threats.

At the same time – while many nations, for instance in Africa, might not be expected to strongly take sides on the issue – there are others at the dispute’s forefront which have kept quiet.

The most important countries in that regard are those of Southeast Asia, even as they are next door to China and have been complaining of its aggressive influence.

The report quotes Singapore-based scholar Collin Koh as saying some of the nations in question may have had Chinese spy balloon sightings, but are unwilling to “talk about it” so as not to get involved in the US-Chinese rivalry.

It is noted that even Taiwan, which is an informal US ally and constantly faces the threat of a Chinese Communist invasion, “largely” downplayed the Chinese spy balloon threat.

Another international relations scholar, Australia-based Susannah Patton, told NBC News, that some of the nations in Southeast Asia might actually lack the “capability to prevent” China’s balloon surveillance operations.

Another nation in the region, Vietnam, which collaborated militarily with the US in the past couple of decades, expressed hopes the US-Chinese dispute would be resolved through dialogue.

At the same time, Vivian Balakrishnan, Singapore’s Foreign Minister, even decried the US government’s decision to cancel Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s planned visit to China over the spying balloon.

According to Brookings Institution researcher Madiha Afzal, many nations would like to have the benefits of relations with both America and China and view the world as a multipolar place, not one led by either of the biggest powers.

This article appeared in The State Today and has been published here with permission.