Every good party has balloons. But who knew it would be a balloon that ends up ruining the party rather than getting it started? Personally, I like the helium vocal chord squeaking variety over the kind in the hands of a might-be-child-molester who, for some reason, says his inflated work of art is a "dog" when it's clearly more phallic than the party host that booked him might have preferred. Still, I don't think the clown is spying on me, but I guess it depends on what you call "spying" and what you call "being a clown."
I don't think China intended to ruin our kid's birthday's this last weekend, but I do think they were clowning. Normally, China opts for spy methods more subtle than a party-bus-sized balloon flying higher than commercial aircraft. No, they'd rather be right in our hands with TikTok.
China runs a pretty impressive shop – a sweatshop, that is. Take their recent Pandemic response, for example. They've logged years of maintaining the lowest Covid cases per capita compared to other countries, thanks to accurately tracking Covid well below actual levels since before we even knew who invented Covid. Their Zero Covid policy success stories are only outnumbered by the number of suicides that took place because of them, thanks to the inhumane Covid lockdowns and aggressive restrictions. But hey, China is for the people. You can be sure they'll protect every citizen from Covid even if it kills them.
Another unique success is China's "no limits" partnership with Russia, an alliance announced just a few days before Putin invaded Ukraine, which left President Xi Jinping invoking meatloaf, saying, "...but I won't do that." It's successes like these that have helped Xi to secure a third term as President when he won a landslide victory with the full support of his entire constituency – himself.
Thankfully, China has dropped its Covid Zero policies after enduring protests from citizens across the country, and China and Russia have determined they're just friends with benefits, and now the international superpower can get back to focusing on what it should have been doing all along. Trying to compete with the United States.
That's what balloons are good for. To float over American stuff so you can take pictures and try to make cheap knockoffs without respect for patents or copyrights. And if you need to spy on daily operations, balloons are a great espionage budget saver if you can't swing the $100 million to build a Chinese Spy Pagoda in a Washington, D.C. park.
The USA is no stranger to a Chinese spy balloon, even if the media is. Hell, we've sent a balloon or two their way, as well as Nancy Pelosi. The history of China and the United States spying on each other is a rich tradition we've celebrated for generations. Unfortunately, this latest round of balloon surveillance has brought nothing short of a headache, ruining the weekend and igniting an international crisis. Last week, Secretary of State A. Blinken (not to be confused with Abe Lincoln) went as far as canceling his diplomatic trip to China just before he was scheduled to take off. He'll probably reschedule, but until "conditions are right," his Chinese counterparts will need to entertain themselves by sucking helium.
The Balloon-Gate saga keeps expanding from a drifting party favor to an international crisis that could pop any minute. In a world where dating decisions are swiped like tissues, and single tweets can destroy careers, it's no surprise that a balloon could prompt a diplomatic crisis. Let's look at why.
China, one of the most powerful countries in the world, didn't exist in its current form until 1949, roughly around the time Biden got his first red wagon. It was after years of civil war that the People's Republic of China was established by Chinese Communist Party leader Mao Zedong. For the US, we've had generations of both cooperation and tension. The tension isn't just because we keep saying all their manufactured products are cheap for the sake of our egos, but we've also invested in building up their enemy's militaries over the years too, including supporting Taiwan's independence.
Before modern China, its predecessors enjoyed an imperial monarchy for over 2,000 years. The Qing dynasty had a good stretch of economic world domination, but things changed at the end of the 19th century. China's government was accused of pushing the country backward, suppressing the development of science, and making ethnic Han people wear their hair in a Manchu-style Queue or be executed. After a decade of tension, the Xinhai Revolution ended two millennia of imperial rule.
The country suffered through civil war and a troubled economic position in the world until the Communist Party took over in 1949, changing its fortunes. In 2011, China overtook Japan as the world's second-largest economy, and after years of ignoring them, we shifted our foreign relations focus back to China because, having held the top spot since 1890, we like to keep our eye on those nipping at our feet.
This should all matter to us, because China, one of the most powerful countries in the world has had a shaky footing. Something that could happen to any country. For China, it was only 31 years between being the world leader in 1880, to an overthrowing of its government in 1911. It was 38 years before the next government takeover in 1949 and 62 years before they returned to second place on the world stage.
Today a balloon is causing us to question how they're even running the place.
Let's put this in context. China has only been in a position to set the world agenda since the year the pop sensation 'The Weekend' released the hit album 'House of Balloons,' launching an enormous music career for a guy with a weird hair-based thing on his head and an earworm tune you can't get out of your head or your iPod.
You can see that this durable thing that we call a country is, in fact, quite fragile, and we've got the whole world in our hands as we speak. We should always remember. A balloon can ruin The Weekend, or it can make its career.