The more that comes out about how the Chinese spy balloon was handled, the more pathetic the Biden administration appears to be. The balloon was finally shot down on Saturday, after it had already been able to traipse throughout the United States. We're just now learning on Tuesday, thanks to a statement from the Pentagon, that Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin had wanted to speak to Chinese Defense Minister Wei Fenghe, only to be rebuffed.
As POLITICO's Olivia Olander reported, the Defense Department submitted a request for a call between Austin and Fenghe immediately after the balloon had finally been shot down.
Olander referenced a statement from Pentagon spokesman Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder. "Lines between our militaries are particularly important in moments like this. Unfortunately, the PRC has declined our request," the statement said, referring to the People's Republic of China. "Our commitment to open lines of communication will continue."
Yeah, good luck with that.
China had admitted that it was their balloon last Friday, after the American people finally learned of its existence, offering a statement of "regret," though they tried to claim it was merely a civilian research airship.
That Fenghe would rebuff Austin is not surprisingly, and not merely because the Biden administration has shown to be so weak.
As Matt highlighted not long after the balloon was shut down, a statement from China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs covered by NBC News expressed its "strong dissatisfaction and protest over the use of force" from the United States and also claimed we had engaged in an "obvious over reaction and a serious violation of international customary practice."
The statement also assured that "The Chinese side will resolutely safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of the companies concerned, while reserving the right to make further necessary responses."
Brig. Gen. Ryder's statement does not appear to have been heavily circulated by the Pentagon, at least not as of Tuesday night. The Department of Defense's Twitter feed appears to be at this time mostly focused on commemorating Black History Month, as well as sharing updates about the earthquake in Turkey.
That's not exactly surprising, given that President Joe Biden is giving his State of the Union address on Tuesday night as well, just a few hours after the statement was first reported. The president had supposedly wanted to shoot the balloon down beforehand, though the military thought otherwise, despite Biden being the commander in chief. While this raises questions and concerns about the trust involved for Biden being in charge, Democrats have sought to spin the response as a positive, just as Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) did earlier on Tuesday.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken had been scheduled to go on a trip to China, but on Friday postponed what Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) made clear what was "already an ill-advised trip," though the senator offered his view during this appearance on "Fox News Sunday" that the administration "wanted to salvage the secretary of state's trip on Friday night and they got through Thursday afternoon."
Such is not the first time that the CCP hasn't bothered to get on the phone with Secretary Austin. The same issue happened in May of 2021.