A rare and rapid bipartisan rebuke of Beijing came from the House on Thursday, condemning China’s balloon spying program as a “brazen infringement” of American sovereignty as concerns over the craft, which the US claims were part of a massive aerial espionage program, grow.
The 419-0 vote occurred as U.S. authorities told senators in a confidential meeting who were demanding answers about the white balloon that floated over the American sky. The balloon, which traveled across the country before being shot down by American military aircraft last weekend, was the subject of a Senate hearing.
Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, said, “I believe this resolution sends a strong bipartisan statement to the CCP and our adversaries across the world that this activity will not be accepted.”
In a Congress torn apart by ideological differences, the concern over China’s covert balloon surveillance program and the extent of Beijing’s worldwide economic and military power offered an unusual opportunity for bipartisan agreement.
Rep. Gregory Meeks of New York, the lead Democrat on the Foreign Affairs subcommittee, said, “It is now up to Beijing to demonstrate that it is serious about upholding international rules and law, not just to the United States but to the world.”
The balloon was launched from Alaska to the Atlantic Ocean, but the U.S. didn’t shoot it down until it was over the ocean, off the coast of South Carolina.
That provoked outrage from both political parties, including some directed at President Joe Biden for not intervening sooner.
However, the GOP-led House temporarily left aside its criticism of Biden to concentrate on China.
The chairman of the Senate subcommittee holding a hearing on the balloon, Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., stated that he was interested in learning “exactly how it flew, particularly in Montana because I’m very familiar with where the (missile) silos are, and questions like, Did it have the ability to hover?
The nation’s concern about the PRC is one of the few political topics in Washington today, according to retired U.S. Adm. Harry Harris of the Navy during his hearing before the House Armed Services Committee this past week.
Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Ala., chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, declared: “Make no mistake, that balloon was purposely released as a planned show of power.” “We must stop being so naive about China’s threat to us.”