Make no mistake: China’s incursions into our airspace look like a prelude to an attack.
The Chinese balloon we shot down on Feb. 4 lingered over Malmstrom Air Force Base, the site of approximately a third of America’s land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles. The balloon then flew near both F. E. Warren and Minot Air Force bases, which house the remainder of America’s Minutemen III wings. The balloon also passed close to Whiteman Air Force Base, home to the nuclear-capable B-2 bomber fleet, and Offutt Air Force Base, the headquarters of Strategic Command, which controls US nuclear weapons.
This path suggests China is gathering intelligence for either a first or second strike on America’s nukes.
Whatever China is planning, the violation of American territorial airspace was blatant and revealed the dangerous mentality of Chinese leadership.
There are several alternative explanations for why Beijing engaged in such a brazen act at this moment. It’s possible that the Chinese military has become so politically powerful inside the ruling Communist Party that it could launch this balloon without consulting other regime elements. Perhaps Chinese ruler Xi Jinping had decided this was the time to intimidate the United States into not defending, say, Taiwan or Japan.
Xi can see that Vladimir Putin’s nuke threats have been effective in getting President Biden to hold back on supplying military equipment for beleaguered Ukraine.
We cannot look into Xi’s mind, but we can see what he has been doing: preparing the People’s Republic of China for war. At the Communist Party’s 20th National Congress in October, he appointed his “war cabinet.” He is pushing the fastest military buildup since WWII, he is trying to sanctions-proof his regime and he’s mobilizing China’s civilians for battle.