China has reason to stay cool after US ball: experts
BEIJING/HONG KONG –
China may react to US downing of its alleged spy balloon after warning of ‘serious repercussions’, but analysts say any move will likely be finely calibrated to avoid a deterioration in ties the two sides have sought to fix.
Regional analysts and diplomats are closely watching China’s response after a US fighter jet shot down the balloon – which Beijing says was an errant weather-monitoring craft – in the Atlantic off North Carolina. South Saturday.
China on Sunday condemned the attack as an “overreaction”, saying it reserved the right to use necessary means to deal with “similar situations”, without giving further details.
Some analysts said they would be scanning the seas and skies of East Asia for signs of tension, given growing deployments of ships and planes from China and the United States and of their allies.
But as bilateral tension has increased in recent days over the balloon incident, Beijing and Washington have sought to improve relations.
The discovery of the balloon in the upper atmosphere over North America prompted the United States to postpone Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s visit to Beijing this week. That trip was the result of a November summit between Presidents Joe Biden and Xi Jinping.
The two sides are widely seen as keen to stabilize relations after a turbulent few years, with the Biden administration wary of tensions escalating into conflict and Xi eyeing a recovery for the world’s second-largest economy after a severe COVID-19 crisis.
The path to rebuilding U.S.-China relations likely remains on track, said Zhao Tong, senior fellow at the China office of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and visiting fellow at Princeton University.
“Both sides still have a strong common interest in stabilizing and responsibly handling bilateral relations,” Zhao told Reuters.
UNDER CARPET SWEEPING
Collin Koh, a security researcher at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore, predicted that China would continue to respond vigorously to US military reconnaissance patrols, but would stop short of confrontation.
Even in calmer times, Chinese forces actively follow US military patrols, especially at sea, amid tensions around Taiwan and the disputed South China Sea, according to regional military attachés.
“Against manned platforms, we might expect China to exercise restraint, but against unmanned platforms it becomes more uncertain – especially if Beijing thinks it is possible to contain the fallout because it doesn’t involve any crew,” Koh said.
He noted China’s seizure of a US underwater glider deployed by an oceanographic research vessel off the Philippines in December 2016. The Chinese Navy later returned it to a US warship.
Christopher Twomey, a security specialist at the US Naval Postgraduate School in California, said any Chinese response would be limited.
“I expect them to protest moderately, but I hope to sweep this under the rug and restore progress on high profile visits within a few months,” Twomey said, speaking privately.
Zhu Feng, executive dean of Nanjing University’s School of International Studies, said US officials should stop “hype” to ensure a smooth return to the normalized communications they previously demanded. in Beijing.
Zhu expressed hope that “the two governments can turn the page as soon as possible so that China-US relations can return to an institutionalized channel of communication and dialogue.”
Some analysts are monitoring Chinese state media and online activity for clues about any demands for a tougher response, as China’s mainstream state media has been limited to reporting official statements.
On China’s heavily censored social media, there was little evidence that nationalist anger was stoked by the incident, with many netizens asking what the fuss was about a balloon.
“Now China can withdraw its satellites!” joked one user.
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