Why Chinese Deployed a Surveillance Balloon Over USA – Implications for India : Col Virendra Kumar

It is very likely that Chinese deployed these balloons all over the world but it remained undetected and provided useful information to China. But more than that did China carry out a dry run for future EMP operations as this tweet suggest.

NewsBharati    13-Feb-2023 16:51:00 PM   
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Let us be very clear about it. Today it is USA, tomorrow it can be India. On 04 Feb 2023, F 22 used missiles to shoot it down and it did, off the South Carolina coast over Atlantic Ocean. Chinese are trying to downplay the incident because it suits them. Biden is over playing it because it has bipartisan support in USA to be aggressive against China and Biden is likely to go for second term as President of USA whether his opponents like it or not. In India, lot many people were feeling that he is getting older and older and probably Kamala Harris will take over mid-way. Till now, it has proved to be a wishful thinking only. Kamala Harris is not an Indian, but we certainly insist that she has Indian roots for our own satisfaction.
What it was actually? It’s clear that it was a surveillance system deployed by China. Chinese now claim that it was a research balloon for weather forecasting and accidently drifted away. Other countries will accept this explanation because they cannot do much against China but USA do not have to accept that. CIA says that China has used it against more than 40 countries till now. Another balloon was seen on Latin America but both Brazil and Argentina downplayed it. It was seen over US nuclear assets so USA got a reasonable doubt. China also showed to the world that it has that technology. Canada also shot some white object down detected over its horizon.
Now, where does India stand on this? Here comes the wind-factor. Wind direction in Indian subcontinent is from West to East so Pakistan can deploy in India but India cannot. China can make use of iron clad brother Pakistan to deploy balloons over India.
Fact is that it has so many advantages over satellites and it is not easy to detect. It has communication and surveillance tools, can be used for multiple purposes including jamming of communication and cyber warfare. USA had reasonable suspicion.
China wanted to convey some message to USA and to the world, it conveyed but simultaneously USA wanted to convey some message to China and to the world and it did so. US Navy recovered the wreckage of Balloon and now Chinese want it back.
It is very likely that Chinese deployed these balloons all over the world but it remained undetected and provided useful information to China. But more than that did China carry out a dry run for future EMP operations as this tweet suggest.

Now, if that be the case what is the potential of this capability and that brings that Chinese may use it as part of electronic warfare, hybrid warfare and cyber warfare. EMP pulse can jam the communication system totally. Chinese are certainly trying to down play the incident and accusing USA of using disappropriate amount of force against a research balloon but who believes them? Immediately after this incident, a survey was carried out in USA which concluded that more than 50% of Americans believe that there can be war with China. Incidents like this increase the probability of hostilities.
Now, if that be the case, Biden used the opportunity to show bravado by announcing that Chinese balloon has been shot down, in the most aggressive body language.
There is no denial of the fact that Chinese are using all the opportunities to supply support systems to Russians while evading sanctions. Western block has been trying to plug these loopholes in their system but have not been able to do so till now. That will further increase the mistrust between two super powers, thus leading to cold war and opening of hostilities in future.
Is the China testing Bidens nerve before opening up Taiwan front under the assumption that USA is too preoccupied in Europe and it is the right opportunity to test USA along its coast. No body has done it before unless you wish to refer to Cuban missile crisis.
While China has limitation to deploy over Ladakh, it still can do it over Port Blair and that makes India vulnerable, keeping in view the Chinese interest in Indo pacific reason. More than that Chinese will use this innocuous research tool, as they claim, as part of hybrid warfare which can give them immense benefit in cost benefit analysis. CIA claims that they have a fleet of balloons to deploy. India too can have this capability but more than that it needs to have more detection capability to neutralise Chinese advantage. Our decision makers must be listening and watching too.

Col Virendra Kumar

Col Virendra Kumar, a Military Veteran with 27 years of Army , alumni of Pantnagar, IIM Bangalore , Symbiosis Pune ,wears multiple hats . He has got national and international exposure during his Army tenures and corporate stint with leading US MNC He is passionate about Military history , Indian history , national and international affairs .