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China’s Spy Balloon Is National Security Wake-Up Call for the US

As Beijing seeks to weaken America on all fronts, constant vigilance is required.

The revelation that China sent spy balloons over the US and other neighboring nations should be a wake-up call to the world. It has become clear that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is hoping to expand its hegemonic activities.

Notably, this Chinese balloon was not merely a spy balloon. It could also be the ideal vehicle to deliver an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attack, which could completely disable the American electrical grid for up to a year.

In other words, this wasn’t just an exercise in spying on adversaries but could also have been a practice run on how to attack the United States.

To be clear, China’s plan for world domination isn’t merely focused on spy balloons or even EMP attacks. The CCP uses every tool at its disposal to make its adversaries weaker and itself stronger.

US Navy sailors recover a high-altitude surveillance balloon off the coast
US Navy sailors recover a high-altitude surveillance balloon off the coast of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, February 5, 2023. Photo: Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Tyler Thompson/US Navy

One example where little attention is focused is China’s effort to corner the world market on shipping.

The country is strategically acquiring ports and shipping infrastructure all over the world and even owned a port facility in California before then-President Donald Trump intervened and forced the country to divest itself of any ownership.

Being vulnerable either economically or militarily to China is highly provocative and will likely invite conflict. As the country seeks to weaken America on all fronts, constant vigilance will be required.

Jones Act

This is one of the reasons that the Jones Act — which requires vessels providing transportation or shipping services between two ports within the US be American-built, American-crewed, and American-owned and flagged — is so important.

Who in their right mind would want to allow Chinese built, crewed, and flagged ships to sail up and down the more than 20,000 miles of inland waterways?

Obviously, America permits ships from all over the world to make deliveries and pick up goods from the country for sale abroad. But thanks to the Jones Act, those foreign ships cannot directly continue on to a second, third, or fourth US port and sail ever deeper into America’s heartland.

Giving China Power

Some Americans seek to supplant or discard the Jones Act, not understanding that it would play into the CCP’s hands. But if the United States permits China to dominate shipping — particularly shipping within its borders — imagine the power that would give them. It would go well beyond spying abilities as Chinese vessels could enter and go up American waterways at will.

By underbidding all American shippers, China could strangle the US into economic submission without even waging a conventional war. This was attempted during the pandemic when China threatened to withhold medical supplies if the search into COVID origins at the Wuhan Institute of Virology was continued.

There can be no doubt that as long as the world is dependent upon China, they will use that power for their own ends.

Chinese President Xi Jinping
Chinese President Xi Jinping. Photo: AFP


America must remain committed to the principle outlined by George Washington that “to be prepared for war is one of the most effective means of preserving peace.”

But as General Thomas S. Power, a four-star general and commander-in-chief of the Strategic Air Command, once said:

“Deterrence is more than bombs and missiles and tanks and armies. Deterrence is a sound economy and prosperous industry. Deterrence is scientific progress and good schools [and] effective civil defense and the maintenance of law and order…. Deterrence is honesty in public office and freedom of the press.  Deterrence is all these things and many more, for only a nation that is healthy and strong in every respect has the power and will to deter the forces … that threaten its survival.”

Even before World War II, America’s military leaders were advocating for the Jones Act. It provides America with the capacity to build and repair its Navy’s ships as well as provides trained mariners during times of conflict and sea lift capacity when the American military needs it.

It also provides homeland security benefits by keeping foreign-flagged ships from sailing directly between multiple US ports.

Given China’s clear goals for global hegemony, now is precisely the wrong time to outsource essential American industries like shipbuilding and shipping within the US. Doing so would be foolish and play into the CCP’s hands.

In a very real way, the Jones Act ensures that at least that part of the communist regime’s game plan cannot become a reality.

Headshot George LandrithGeorge Landrith is President of Frontiers of Freedom, a think tank founded by former US Senator Malcolm Wallop to promote the principles of peace through strength.

The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial position of The Defense Post.

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