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Editorial: Hypocrisy, histrionics and hot air: the US and one Chinese balloon

YOU would have struggled to miss the sensationalist coverage of the Chinese weather balloon which drifted over the continental United States last week, only to be heroically downed by a $400,000 sidewinder missile.

The Chinese government has been clear from the outset that the balloon is from China and is a civilian airship, mainly for meteorological research.

It asserts that the balloon was blown off course and was never intended to pass over the US and that this was an unfortunate accident which should be dealt with sensibly and calmly.

Eager to never let a good crisis go to waste or, in this case, fabricate one out of thin (or perhaps hot? …) air, the US government has responded with hysteria and sabre-rattling of the highest order.

The US military establishment has been feverishly declaring that the very obvious and apparently helpless balloon is a sophisticated spying device and that the “deliberate” act by China amounts to a gross threat to sacrosanct US “national security” and a violation of its territorial sovereignty.

Both the US parties of the ruling class have been falling over each other to sound more confrontational and shout louder for escalation and more aggression towards China. 

This is all despite the fact that the balloon is not understood to have posed any risk to civilians or military targets and, as the US itself admitted, the balloon wasn’t capable of any spying that couldn’t already and more easily be done by satellites (begging the question why the Chinese would send it in the first instance).

A similar balloon, which also apparently deviated from its intended course, passed over Latin America and the Caribbean without incident. The Colombian government said it passed harmlessly over their airspace and represented no threat to national security.

The US has gone as far as to cancel a scheduled visit to Beijing by Secretary of State Antony Blinken, intended to improve relations, in an effort to escalate the issue.

The bellicose US rhetoric is of course in part intended for the domestic US audience, but for those fighting for peace and against imperialism, it is a telling sign of the determination of the United States to pursue its new cold war against China.

It is just as well that China, and other countries around the globe for that matter, has not and does not respond to the innumerable very real and outrageous US transgressions against its national and territorial sovereignty.

Otherwise, it might have something to say about the US “pivot to Asia” and the ring of US bases surrounding China from the Pacific to the Indian Ocean and the Middle East, with the US securing agreement for four brand new bases in the Philippines just last week.

The Chinese could perhaps reasonably object to the aggressive manoeuvres of massive US fleets, thousands of miles from the US, in the South China Sea and all across the Pacific.

And the Chinese people may also be aggrieved by provocative US attempts to challenge Chinese sovereignty in Hong Kong and Taiwan, in defiance of Washington’s own recognition that these are Chinese territory, for example with Nancy Pelosi’s visit to the US armed island just last year and a visit by the new US House Speaker mooted for this year.

If China or any other nation conducted itself as the United States does and has done for decades, the response of the imperialist camp would be very different.

All of this has significant implications for the fight for peace, a multipolar world and against imperialism and as well as for the battle of ideas here in Britain. 

The left must oppose the drive to war and the concerted state and monopoly media offensive against China, and the racist and anti-communist tropes which characterise it. 

Working people have nothing to gain from the new cold war against China — we have everything to lose.

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