Amid intense criticism and scrutiny over the military and intelligence community’s failure to detect and prevent the entry of a Chinese spy balloon into U.S. airspace, even after at least three previous incursions of a similar nature, a spokesman for the State Department has tried to portray the Biden administration as taking a proactive approach, sharing intelligence widely with U.S. allies in an effort to thwart further subversion by Beijing.
Speaking at a press conference on Feb. 6, State Dept. spokesman Ned Price described the security breach that the balloon’s entry represents as one facing not just the United States but many nations.
“We have detected this variety of high-altitude surveillance balloon across five continents. This is a challenge that a number of countries around the world have been subjected to, and it’s precisely why, in the aftermath of the downing of this high-altitude surveillance balloon, we thought it was important to convene, to reach out, to like-minded countries around the world to share what we experienced, to share what we know, to express our common concern, and to do what we can to see to it that, as an international community, we are speaking very clearly to the PRC, and for that matter any other country … who would engage in this type of behavior, to underscore that it is irresponsible, it is inappropriate, and at the end of the day, it is unacceptable,” Price said.
Price went on to emphasize the critical role that he sees Japan as playing in containing the threat from the Chinese regime and ensuring the stability of the Indo-Pacific region.
Price went so far as to give his imprimatur to the historic steps that Japan officially began to take at the end of last year toward rearming itself and ramping up its ability to deter aggression coming from the Chinese mainland.
Japan’s postwar constitution had severely restricted the size and role of the nation’s armed forces and denied her offensive military capability. But now, Prime Minister Kishida Fumio has committed to altering longstanding protocol and importing weapons from the United States, including Tomahawk cruise missiles that can reach the Chinese mainland. Japan will also reportedly develop its own weapons in order to enhance its ability to deter Beijing.
“Our Japanese allies are critical to us in the Indo-Pacific, in north Asia, and beyond. We’ve applauded the investments that the prime minister announced, and his defense capabilities. We wholeheartedly embrace our alliance coordination and cooperation across a range of fronts, and more broadly—whether it’s in the Indo-Pacific, whether it’s in Europe, or anywhere else—when it comes to the challenges that are posed by the PRC, one of our greatest strengths is going to be the system of partnerships and alliances that we bring along with us,” Price said.
Price described the first year of the Biden administration as one of an intensive cultivation of alliances with other nations that share an interest in checking Chinese aggression and subversion.
“I think you have heard a number of countries express their own concern, even outrage, over what has transpired in the last couple of days. But more broadly than that, we are lucky to have by our side allies in the Indo-Pacific, like Japan, allies, and partners around the world … with whom we are working in lockstep to confront the challenges and opportunities we face,” he said.