The meltdown in DC risks turning into a self-fulfilling prophecy: Routine inter-state relations becoming a full-blown crisis.

by Jake Werner, Responsible Statecraft

The U.S. military shot down the Chinese balloon floating over the continental U.S. on Saturday, which Washington confirmed was a surveillance balloon and not a civilian aircraft used for meteorological purposes, as claimed by the Chinese government.  A F-22 fighter plane shot down the balloon with an AIM-9X Sidewinder missile when it was over the coast of South Carolina for safety purposes. The Chinese foreign ministry responded Sunday morning by calling it a “clear overreaction and a serious violation of international practice.”

That morning, Secretary of State Antony Blinken postponed a long-awaited trip to China in response to the sighting of an alleged Chinese surveillance balloon over American territory.

Chinese President Xi Jinping (R) shake hands with U.S Vice President Joe Biden (L) inside the Great Hall of the People on December 4, 2013 in Beijing, China.

Despite Pentagon assurances that the balloon poses “no risk to commercial aviation, military assets or people on the ground,” members of Congress used the incident to hype fears about China. “It is a threat right here at home. It is a threat to American sovereignty, and it is a threat to the Midwest — in places like those that I live in,” said House China Select Committee Chairman Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.).

“A big Chinese balloon in the sky and millions of Chinese TikTok balloons on our phones,” tweeted Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT). “Let’s shut them all down.”

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