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The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus

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China Spy Balloon, US–China -- Conflict, Espionage -- International Relations


The recent China Balloon Incident has all the appearance of high drama, though the heat is mainly provided by domestic politics rather than a strategic face-off of the U-2 or Cuba Missile Crisis variety. This is a drama in three acts. In Act 1, “Discovery”, the Biden administration went into action mode on finding that a Chinese “spy” balloon had crossed the US. An air force jet shot the balloon down, displaying Cold War-style toughness with China. In Act 2, “Evaluation”, new facts emerged that shed further light on the episode. Act 3, “Blaming”, involves mutual recriminations that obscure the real issue: escalating great power tensions between the United States and China.


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