Leaked Emails Reveal Biden Admin’s Efforts to Shield China During Spy Balloon Crisis

Originally published May 11, 2023 2:00 pm PDT

The Biden administration’s approach to these issues, particularly regarding China, has come under scrutiny following a recent report from Reuters, as pointed out by RedState.

Backed by leaked emails and insider accounts, the Reuters report reveals that during the Chinese spy balloon incident that captured the nation’s attention in early 2023, Secretary of State Antony Blinken sought to protect China.

This surprising policy stance was taken despite the intrusion of an alleged Chinese spy balloon into U.S. airspace in February.

Reuters states that several U.S. officials had anticipated that the spy balloon incident would prompt the U.S. government to take decisive action against China.

However, the State Department chose to delay human rights-related sanctions, export controls, and other sensitive actions to avoid harming the U.S.-China relationship, as confirmed by four sources with direct knowledge of U.S. policy and internal emails seen by Reuters.

In an email dated February 6 and previously unreported, Rick Waters, the deputy assistant secretary of State for China and Taiwan who leads the “China House” policy division, wrote: “Guidance from S (Secretary of State) is to push non-balloon actions to the right so we can focus on symmetric and calibrated response. We can revisit other actions in a few weeks.”

The sources indicated that many of these measures have not been reinitiated, leading to decreased morale at China House.

Blinken’s decision to delay major human rights and trade measures, including sanctions against Chinese tech companies like Huawei and actions to address China’s treatment of the Uyghurs, demonstrated a reluctance to penalize China for its provocative breach of U.S. airspace and sovereignty.

Moreover, sources speaking on condition of anonymity to avoid retaliation told Reuters that Blinken had largely delegated China policy duties to Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman, the United States’ second-ranked diplomat.

Sherman has a history of advocating for China, having led the lobbying effort against the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act of 2021, RedState points out.

As a result, not only has Blinken been criticized for neglecting the most pressing U.S. foreign policy issue by delegating it to a subordinate, but he has also entrusted the responsibility to an individual with a track record of being lenient toward China.

Sherman’s previous roles include overseeing the troubled withdrawal from Afghanistan, during which she notably claimed that the “Taliban seek legitimacy.”

Her involvement in these and other major foreign policy issues has consistently been met with criticism, raising questions about the wisdom of her appointment to handle U.S.-China relations.

In a May 2022 speech, Blinken expressed his “great respect for the Chinese people.”

He highlighted what he characterized as China’s “achievements,” praising “their history” and “their culture.”

“We deeply value the ties of family and friendship that connect us,” he went on to say. “And we sincerely wish for our governments to work together on issues that matter to their lives and to the lives of Americans, and for that matter the lives of people around the world.”

He said of the Eastern nation, “We do not see conflict.”

Blinken’s sympathies for China remain despite, for example, widespread global concern about China’s treatment of the Uyghur population in Xinjiang, with numerous countries accusing China of committing acts of genocide and crimes against humanity.

The United States government took the lead in labeling China’s actions as genocide, prompting other nations to follow suit by imposing sanctions on Chinese officials and entities involved in these grave violations.

The United Nations human rights office also released a report in 2022, documenting the abuses inflicted by China in Xinjiang, further validating these accusations.