Rep. Gallagher: Biden Admin Holding Back Sanctions on China After Spy Balloon Incident Is ‘Troubling’

Mike Gallagher
Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

House China Select Committee Chairman Mike Gallagher (R-WI) called a recent report that the Biden administration held back on sanctions against China after the spy balloon incident “troubling” and “scandalous.”

“I think it’s incredibly troubling. Time and time again, we think that by being nice to China, they’re somehow going to moderate their behavior…so I thought it was pretty scandalous,” Gallagher said during a conference call Wednesday in response to a question from Breitbart News.

Last week, Reuters reported that after the Chinese spy balloon traversed America skies in February, some U.S. officials were confident it would galvanize the “U.S. bureaucracy” to push forward a prepared slate of actions against China, but instead, “the U.S. State Department held back human rights-related sanctions, export controls and other sensitive actions to try to limit damage to the U.S.-China relationship.”

Reuters noted that Rick Waters, deputy assistant secretary of State for China and Taiwan, who leads the Office of China Coordination (“China House”) policy division, said in a February 6 email to staff: “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.”

Officials told Reuters that the decision to postpone export licensing rules for telecom equipment maker Huawei and sanctions against Chinese officials for abuses of Uyghurs has “damaged morale at China House.” They also said Secretary of State Antony Blinken had largely delegated China policy duties to Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman, who announced shortly after the report broke that she would be leaving the administration.

Gallagher also criticized the Biden administration for trying to “downplay” the balloon incident and even hide its existence until local citizens saw it in the sky.

“It’s also become clear that they just did their best to downplay the balloon incident in general, and were hoping that it would just traverse over the United States, nobody would notice and, you know, Blinken could keep his original travel plans to Beijing,” he said, which he said was a strategy that blew up “like a hot air balloon.”

“So, there’s a lot of questions I think Congress needs to ask the State Department. I don’t know if Wendy Sherman will be available to answer those questions going forward, given that she’s planning on leaving, but I really think it’s a perfect encapsulation of this naive belief that guided our China policy for two decades now, which is that we give concessions in the hope that it will reduce the temperature and moderate Chinese behavior when indeed the opposite happens,” he said.

“They read it as weakness and their appetite grows,” he said. “Very, very troubling — the triumph of delusion over experience.”

Watch Mike Gallagher’s full opening statement on the China committee:

The Select Committee on the CCP

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