EXCLUSIVE: House China Select Committee Chairman Mike Gallagher told Fox News Digital that the Chinese spy balloon flying over the continental United States is “not just an isolated incident,” but an intentional violation and threat to American sovereignty.
“The important thing that the American people need to understand, and what we are going to try to expose in a bipartisan fashion on this committee, is that the threat posed by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is not just a distant threat in East Asia, or a threat to Taiwan,” Gallagher told Fox News Digital on Friday.
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“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,” Gallagher explained.
Gallagher said it is “not just the recent Chinese spy balloon” that poses the threat, but the fact that the U.S. has had researchers from the People’s Liberation Army at “American universities and multiple cases of espionage here domestically tied to the CCP.”
Gallagher explained that the CCP “doesn’t need to physically send intelligence assets to the United States.”
“Instead, it can use its army of online spies and cyber warriors to steal intellectual property and steal sensitive intelligence,” Gallagher said.
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“We now have a pattern of aggression,” he continued. “This is not just an isolated incident. It is a concerted effort by the CCP to infiltrate various domestic institutions, steal information, steal intellectual property and ultimately weaken America.”
The People’s Republic of China confirmed Friday that the balloon detected over Montana is Chinese.
China claimed that the airship is a civilian research craft that was blown far off course by prevailing winds.
“The airship is from China. It is a civilian airship used for research, mainly meteorological, purposes,” a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson said Friday. “Affected by the Westerlies and with limited self-steering capability, the airship deviated far from its planned course.”
However, Gallagher warned that “no one should ever trust anything that Chinese Communist Party officials say,” while stressing that the U.S. should “shoot down” the balloon if it is still traveling across America.
“We need to understand who we’re dealing with with the Chinese Communist Party,” he said.
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Secretary of State Antony Blinken was set to travel to Beijing this week to meet with Chinese President Xi, but the State Department announced Friday that the trip would be indefinitely postponed.
“It would have been an extremely bad look for him to be doing a grip and grin with Xi Jinping and the foreign minister at the same time as a Chinese spy balloon continues to transit over the United States,” Gallagher said. “I think this will send a strong signal to the Chinese Communist Party that things like this won’t be tolerated.”
The Biden administration has touted “open” lines of communication between the U.S. and Beijing since Biden met with Xi, but Gallagher warned not to fall for it.
“They are trying to seduce us into believing that there’s a more cooperative approach on the horizon,” he said, adding that the spy balloon “illustrates that is a complete fantasy.”
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“We don’t want any American leaders to fall for the CCP charm offensive,” he said. “We are dealing with an increasingly aggressive, genocidal, communist regime that continues to threaten Taiwan, continues to undermine American sovereignty and continues to threaten our allies.”
He added, “It is important that we see this threat for what it is.”
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As for President Biden, Gallagher told Fox News Digital that he hopes he spends a “significant portion” of his State of the Union address next week discussing the threat posed by the CCP. Gallagher also said he hoped that Biden would present the threat and discuss the “need to tackle it in a bipartisan manner.”
“He should be focusing on the threats we face from external adversaries,” Gallagher said. “I can’t think of a bigger challenge than that posed by the Chinese Communist Party.”
He added: “I do think it is the existential issue of our time.”