China threatens to tip US into ‘declaration of war’ with risky balloon

China could force the United States into taking decisive action against Beijing if the remnants of the downed balloon exposed explosive content. NORAD chief Gen Glen VanHerck earlier this week said he could not rule out the suspected Chinese spy balloon contained a trigger to self-destruct and said further assessment will be conducted on the debris. Former US intelligence contractor Karim Hijazi warned the consequences of the analysis could be dire for China as he suggested some members of Congress could be inspired to draft a “declaration of war.”

Asked about the impact the presence of explosives in the balloon could have on Sino-US relations, Hijazi told “At a minimum, it would have led to a major diplomatic crisis, but it’s also possible that it could have been considered an act of terrorism or even an act of war.

“It’s worth noting that Congress has become increasingly hawkish on China in recent years.

“This is one of the few issues that both Republicans and Democrats can agree on. They are even more hawkish on China than the White House.”

He added: “And when you consider that Congress is the branch of the US Government that actually has war-making powers, there is a very real likelihood that if China were to send an armed balloon over the US, a few members of Congress might draft and declaration of war on China.

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“That declaration would not get passed, but it would be proposed – which would be enough to galvanize China into its own counterreaction.

“The situation would likely escalate and could result in some type of military brinkmanship, maybe more – probably in the South China Sea.”

The Cyligence CEO however noted that arming the balloon with explosives would be “extremely risky”, especially because of the risk of triggering a declaration of war.

Hijazi added: “In theory, yes, a balloon of this size and sophistication could carry hazardous materials like explosives.

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“However, it would be very unlikely for China to ‘arm’ one of its balloons and send it over the US in this way. That would be extremely risky for them as it would be very close to being considered an act of war or terrorism against the US.

“Even the current violation of US airspace with a surveillance balloon is a serious escalation since it violated US sovereignty.”

He concluded: “That said, another possibility that should be considered is the potential for a balloon of this sort to carry unconventional methods of attack.

“Specifically, it could carry a miniaturized EMP (electromagnetic pulse) bomb that would be very dangerous and, since it’s a balloon, it wouldn’t be affected by its own weapon.

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“However, there is a higher likelihood that this was a cyber reconnaissance tool rather than a kinetic one.

“This is akin to challenges with drones and their ability to get within proximity to alleged ‘air-gapped’ networks in order to interdict and breach them.

“In this particular case, there has also been speculation that the payload carried by the balloon was using LIDAR and could have been mapping wireless access environments.”

The House voted unanimously Thursday to condemn Beijing’s balloon surveillance program as a “brazen violation” of US sovereignty.

But China dismissed the resolution as “purely political manipulation and hyping up.”

Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning told reporters at a daily briefing: “China is strongly dissatisfied with this and firmly opposes it.

“The resolution by the US Congress was purely political manipulation and hyping up.”

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