Cranes, Planes, and Surveillance Balloons: Hyping the China Threat Harms U.S. Security

No one who hasn’t been sleeping in a cave can have missed that U.S.-China relations are at a moment of dangerously high tensions. Just yesterday, Chinese President Xi Jin Ping stated that “Western countries led by the United States have implemented all-around containment, encirclement and suppression of China, which has brought unprecedented severe challenges to our country’s development.” Meanwhile, in the United States, tough rhetoric has been reinforced by systematic – and in many cases misguided – denunciations of a perceived Chinese threat that is portrayed as all-encompassing, from spy balloons to cargo cranes that can allegedly be used for surveillance of goods coming in and out of U.S. ports.

The newly formed House Select Committee on the Strategic Competition Between the United States and the Chinese Communist Party has added fuel to the fire, devoting its first hearing to a litany of alleged threats posed by Beijing, present nearly anywhere one might look, if the committee and its witnesses are to be believed. The stated purpose of the committee is to raise public concern about China. But as Max Boot noted in a recent column in the Washington Post,

“The problem today isn’t that Americans are insufficiently concerned about the rise of China. The problem is that they are prey to hysteria and alarmism that could lead the United States into a needless nuclear war.”

Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal has begun a multi-part series on great power competition that largely accepts the views of the Pentagon and China hawks. The first article in the series ignores the underlying fact that the most effective way to prevent a conflict between the United States and China is to develop some diplomatic rules of the road, not by spinning out scenarios for a war between two nuclear-armed powers that could cause unprecedented devastation to all concerned.

Read the full piece in Forbes.