BY JARED GANS
February 12, 2023
Associated Press/J. Scott Applewhite
Rep. Mike Gallagher, R-Wis., left, a former Marine, joined at right by Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Ala., ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee, speaks during a roundtable discussion with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., and other Republicans as they criticize President Joe Biden on the Afghanistan evacuation, at the Capitol in Washington, Monday, Aug. 30, 2021.
Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.) said he does not believe that “it’s a coincidence” that the Chinese surveillance balloon that traveled across the United States earlier this month appeared as Secretary of State Antony Blinken was set to visit Beijing.
“I don’t think it’s a coincidence that it was timed to coincide with Secretary Blinken’s visit, though we don’t have proof of that yet,” Gallagher told radio host John Catsimatidis on his show, “The Cats Roundtable,” on WABC 770.
Blinken postponed his planned visit to China after the balloon was discovered given the situation.
Gallagher said timing the balloon to cross into U.S. airspace around Blinken’s visit would be “well within the Chinese Communist Party’s playbook” of trying to “humiliate” the U.S. on the world stage.
“It just would not surprise me if this whole thing were intended to send a message to us while our secretary of State was visiting,” he said. “And the message is: ‘Look what we can get away with. And you won’t do anything about it. You’ll still come crawling back.’ “
“So it tells us something fundamental about the Chinese Communist Party,” the Wisconsin Republican added.
Gallagher said this type of incident is why the House created a select committee to focus on the U.S. relationship with China. He said the members of the committee, which he chairs, intend to conduct a “serious, sober effort” to ward off threats from the country.
“We want, in a bipartisan fashion, to push back against threats to our security, against threats to our sovereignty, and ensure that the Chinese Communist Party can’t get away with things like this,” Gallagher said.
Tensions between the U.S. and China have risen in the past week following the incident. China has criticized the U.S. response to the balloon, saying it is overreacting and should not have shot it down.
The Chinese government has claimed that the balloon was conducting meteorological research and was blown off course by wind, but U.S. officials have rejected that notion.