Editor’s Note: U.S. Congressman Andy Barr (R-KY) presses U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on the Administration’s response to China during a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on March 23, 2023.
Washington, D.C.—Today, U.S. Congressman Andy Barr (R-KY), a senior member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, pressed U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on the Administration’s response to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) spy balloons and their support for Russia during the ongoing war in Ukraine. The full transcript of Barr’s questioning is below. You can watch the full clip of his questioning here or by clicking the image above.
Barr: Mr. Secretary, thank you for your service. In the readouts from your February 18th meeting with the top Chinese diplomat, Wang Yi, it is noted that you raised the spy balloon as a violation of U.S. sovereignty and a violation of international law, we thank you for that. But it is clear from our own State Department that the CCP never gave an explanation for the balloon in your meeting and this meeting to their understanding, they said it “paved the way for the resumption of future high-level dialogue between the two sides and the two countries can now talk beyond the balloon issue and come back to the negotiating table on other pressing issues”. That does not sound like you offered any deterrence whatsoever for future incursions into our airspace. Why is that a concern? Because this balloon flew over Malmstrom Airforce Base our nuclear triad, Minot Airforce Base, Warren Airforce Base, Offutt Airforce Base Nebraska HQ to STRATCOM, Fort Leavenworth Kansas, Whiteman Airforce Base where our B2s are, Fort Leonard Wood Missouri, Fort Campbell in my state of Kentucky, Arnold Airforce Base Tennessee, Camp Frank D Merrill Georgia, Shaw Airforce Base South Carolina, Joint Base Charleston South Carolina. Mr. Secretary, this spy balloon should have been shot down as soon as it entered the US Air Defense Zone north of Alaska’s Aleutian Islands on January 28th. Tell me, specifically, what your plan is to prevent further PRC incursions into the U.S. homeland?
Blinken: We told our Chinese counterparts, I told them directly, that the balloon flying over the United States, the spy balloon flying over the United States, was unacceptable and could not happen again and we are determined to make sure that it doesn’t. Not only that, as you know, we were able to expose the entire program, a program that affected more than 40 countries across 5 continents. That resulted not just in us, but many other countries going into China and making clear their opposition to what China was doing and its unacceptability. So, I think the fact that that program has been exposed for the world to see has clearly put the breaks on it. We will take whatever action is appropriate in any given circumstance to protect the security of the United States. In this particular circumstance, as colleagues have laid out, we made a determination first of all when it was clear the balloon was flying over sensitive sites, we made a determination to first of all protect those sites with measures that were taken. Second, to make sure that at the earliest opportunity, in ways that did not endanger the population on the ground, shoot down that balloon.
Barr: Well if I may interject Mr. Secretary, I appreciate your dialogue and as you noted there was no apology, not that we were expecting an apology, but the fact that we didn’t shoot it down before it entered our airspace over the Pacific, not over the Atlantic, was an invitation for further incursions. Talk is cheap, deterrence requires force when our airspace and our sovereignty is an issue.
Blinken: I agree with you, once something is in our airspace and violating our sovereignty, we need to take action.
Barr: This week’s summit between Putin and Chinese leader Xi Jinping reinforced the no-limits relationship between those two authoritarian regimes. In fact, Xi described the visit as a new chapter in strengthening relations between Beijing and Moscow. They are saying that this was portrayed in China as a bold initiative to create a new world order. In your meeting with China’s top diplomat, Wang, you warned about the implications and consequences if China provided material support to Russia for its ongoing invasion of Ukraine, but on February 27th, we finally received the required report from my AXIS Act getting full unclassified assessment of China’s support of Russia’s illegal full invasion of Ukraine. That report said that Russian custom records indicated that PRC firms had provided Russian entities with restricted and dual use products which can be used in Russia’s prosecution of its war against Ukraine. Chinese state-owned defense companies have shipped navigation equipment, jamming technology, jet fighter parts to sanctioned Russian government owned defense companies. New York Times, “since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, China has sold more than $12 million in drones and drone parts to the country”. According to trade and customs data, Chinese companies, including one connected to the government in Beijing, have sent Russian entities assault rifles and other equipment that could be used for military purposes. So my question is, why are you then just saying on February 18th, you are just warning of consequences for providing Russia material support when the State Department comes out 9 days later with an entire years’ worth of unclassified evidence of China’s material support to Russia?
Blinken: Congressman, we are focused on lethal material support being provided by the Chinese state to the Russians.
Barr: This looks like lethal support.
Blinken: We are also tracking the provision by private enterprises of dual-use technology that could be of concern.
Barr: I think we need to sanction China for their lethal support. It’s not just buying the oil and buying the gas. We have documented trade records, custom records, providing lethal support now. We need to get tougher on the CCP. They are financing this war in Russia and they are providing lethal support according to this trade and customs data. We need action and I urge this administration to follow suit.