Biden’s weakness on China will prompt ‘more provocations’

President Joe Biden’s weakness and indecisiveness over what to do about a Chinese spy balloon that entered US airspace and lingered for more than four days above sensitive military sites will only bring more Chinese provocations, Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) said in an exclusive interview with Breitbart News on Monday.

“It started as a spy balloon and it became a trial balloon to test Joe Biden’s strength and resolve and he failed the test. It’s dangerous for America any time our presidents look weak. and shy on the world stage,” Cotton said, adding:

I suspect the Chinese communists laughed all week when they realized the US president was going to let a spy balloon complete its spy mission before shooting it down. This indecision projects weakness, hesitation and ambivalence in the face of these Chinese provocations. So I think we can expect more provocations.

Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) on Capitol Hill in Washington on Tuesday May. 5, 2020. Panel Considers Ratcliffe Appointment as Director of National Intelligence. (Andrew Harnik-Pool/Getty Images)

He said the indecisiveness also sends a message to America’s friends that it “could equivocate when it comes to supporting our alliances.”

“That’s one of the reasons, for example, why you’ve unfortunately seen some countries in the Middle East start hedging their bets with China – traditional American friends and partners. I think that’s also very concerning. for the message he sends about Taiwan and whether President Biden would help Taiwan if [Chinese President] Xi Jinping decides to get the jugular there.

The military claimed the Chinese spy balloon was unable to collect much more information than Chinese satellites in low Earth orbit are capable of, but Cotton said whatever the balloon would could collect would be better than what the satellites could have. be able to collect, including visual images and intelligence signals such as telephone calls, computer transmissions, [electronic] signatures for test launches of missiles and aircraft.

A high-altitude balloon floats over Billings, Montana on Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2023. The United States is tracking a suspected Chinese surveillance balloon that was spotted over U.S. airspace for a few days, but the Pentagon decided not to shoot him down.  due to risk of injury to those on the ground, officials said Thursday, Feb. 2, 2023. The Pentagon has not confirmed the balloon in the photo is the surveillance balloon.  (Larry Mayer/The Billings Gazette via AP)

A high-altitude balloon floats over Billings, Montana, Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2023. (Larry Mayer/The Billings Gazette via AP)

“Obviously the balloon at 60,000 feet has far greater resolution and fidelity than a satellite hundreds of miles out in space. It’s just obvious common sense,” he said. said “And if you collect electronic signatures in the air, you have better fidelity at 60,000 feet than at 100 hundred miles in space and just common sense.”

“We don’t really know what he might have collected,” he said. “I don’t think we will until we have the opportunity to retrieve and export the payload,” he added.

@RealUSC via Storyful

Cotton said he thinks Biden didn’t act on the ball sooner for two reasons.

“He has consistently, throughout his career, appeased China, he has celebrated their so-called peaceful rise, which has in fact been engaged in malign activity against America for decades. He constantly claims that we are not in a cold war, even China has fought a cold war against us for decades, and is ambivalent about deterring China with all the tools – military might, economic might, diplomacy, etc This is the general reason,” he said,

US President Joe Biden, right, and Chinese President Xi Jinping shake hands before a meeting on the sidelines of the G20 summit, Monday, Nov. 14, 2022, in Bali, Indonesia.  (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

US President Joe Biden, right, and Chinese President Xi Jinping shake hands before a meeting on the sidelines of the G20 summit, Monday, Nov. 14, 2022, in Bali, Indonesia. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

“The second specific reason is [Secretary of State] Tony Blinken had a trip to China scheduled for Friday night which would have been [the] first trip in about six years, and I think they wanted to do everything possible to save [his] trip to China, so they were willing to try and keep it a secret, sweep it under the rug until Tony Blinken could take off on Friday night,” he added.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken (AFP)

Cotton was the first in the Senate to ask Blinken to cancel his trip to China, which he later did.

“Fortunately, civilian pilots and photographers in Montana identified this balloon, the Billings Gazette leaked it, and it forced the administration’s hand Thursday afternoon. And then Blinken – after wringing his hands for 12 or 16 hours – finally did what he should have done all along, which was to decide not to take this ill-advised trip to China,” he said. he declares.

Cotton said he wanted to know the exact timeline of when the spy balloon was notified of the chain of command.

“Part of the main reason we have the air force in Alaska is to detect territorial threats in the airspace there, you know, Russia frequently flies bombers near the Alaskan airspace, and we’re still intercepting those bombers, so I want to know exactly what happened when that balloon approached the Aleutian Islands, when it was briefed from the chain of command, why it was not shot down over the Aleutian Islands, why the White House is spinning Joe Biden gave the orders to shoot him down on Tuesday or Wednesday – three or four days after he was in US airspace, and when that decision was not made while immediately above the Aleutians,” he said.

Air Force F-22 fighters intercept Russian Tu-95 bombers near Alaska on September 11, 2018

Air Force F-22 fighters intercept Russian Tu-95 bombers near Alaska on September 11, 2018

Cotton said he had not received any information from the administration, including on alleged incursions that occurred during the Trump administration.

“I was on the Intelligence Committee and the Armed Services Committee throughout the Trump era. I can tell you that we were certainly never made aware of Chinese balloons happily flying through the heartland of the United States,” he said.

“And I’ve spoken with many senior Trump officials – senior White House officials and cabinet members, many of whom have said publicly as [former Director of National Intelligence] John Radcliffe and [former Defense Secretary] Mark Esper that they were never told about it,” he said.

“We’re going to get to the bottom of this because the Department of Defense and Biden’s White House are now claiming these things have happened four more times…now they have to put their cards on the table. What happened? How long did it take, where did it go? Who was aware, what decision was made on this subject? »

Cotton said the Senate Armed Services Committee is working hard to consistently push the Biden administration to take a tougher line toward Chinese communists, particularly arming itself and Taiwan to deter a Chinese invasion of Taiwan.

“Our military must quickly develop the weapons and ammunition we need to deter a war on Taiwan in the Western Pacific. I think many Americans are surprised at how appalling our defense supply chains are in the over the past year, and we need to quickly improve our ability to manufacture more munitions that our soldiers will need in the Western Pacific,” he said.

“We are working hard in the Armed Services Committee to try to give the defense industry the long-term certainty it needs to help rebuild all of these stocks because no one should want to fight a war with China. about Taiwan in the Western Pacific. The best way to share what we don’t share is to be prepared to deter China in the first place. »

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