Fischer calls Chinese spy balloon 'aggressive behavior'
NEBRASKA CITY – U.S. Sen. Deb Fischer of Nebraska sees Chinese aggression in its nuclear weaponry and its spy balloon that traversed the country this month, but also sees potential for states like Nebraska to keep lines of communication open.
Fischer, a member of the Senate Armed Forces Committee and the top Republican on the Strategic Forces Subcommittee, spoke with News Channel Nebraska after Russian President Vladimir Putin announced his country would suspend the last, surviving arms control treaty.
She expressed concern that Russia is not complying with the nuclear arms treaty and China has no interest in talks at all.
Fischer: "We are in a new era. We have two peer competitors when it comes to nuclear weapons now. It's not just the Russians, but we also face the Chinese.”
She is not satisfied with the Chinese government explanation that the balloon was a weather aircraft that strayed far of course. She included the incursion into U.S. airspace among obstacles to meaningful dialogue.
Fischer: “This was a balloon-type gadget up there that’s gathering information. It came across the United States. It didn’t just float across. It was being maneuvered by the Chinese. It was being maneuvered in different areas where they could …
And they had capability to see a couple hundred kilometers out, not just directly under the balloon.”
The incident has raised vocal opposition by Nebraska’s congressional delegation.
Congressman Mike Flood tweeted that the spy balloon is a continuation of the Chinese Communist Party’s information gathering on U.S. citizens that blossomed with Tik Tok and cell-tower equipper Huawei.
Sen. Pete Ricketts told News Max that President Joe Biden could have sent a message to communist China that the U.S. will protect its airspace, but failed to take down the balloon well before it drifted across the United States.
Congressman Don Bacon said citizens should be alarmed over the recent low-speed flying objects. He said it is possible the Chinese are collecting intelligence on radio signals from ICBM and military bases.
Congressman Adrian Smith denounced the balloon incursion and last June criticized President Biden for handing over American innovation to China and complained of unfair trade practices.
A Nebraska Department of Agriculture post says China is Nebraska’s largest export market with a value of $1.4 billion in 2020.
Last week, Sen. Ricketts tweeted a portion of a RFDTV interview where he counted foreign trade as an important factor for Nebraska agriculture.
Ricketts: “Another thing that is huge for agriculture is trade. As governor I went on a lot of trade missions to promote our state – for example our beef exports to Japan – and here in the U.S. Senate I want to be able to work on the type of issues that will help us continue to have good relationships with other countries, to be able to continue to promote trade.”
Ricketts said Sen. Fischer’s role on the Senate’s Agriculture Committee is an advantage for Nebraska’s trade interests.
Fischer said it’s important to keep lines of communication open with nuclear peers and said commerce is one of those important lines.
Fischer: “But that doesn’t mean you ignore the aggressive behavior that they are showing. When you have our air space being invaded, you have an incursion in United States air space by a spy balloon – this is a spy balloon, a surveillance balloon – let’s recognize that. Lets stand up to it because I think it’s always important to show strength.”
Fischer: “But we also have a number of capabilities as well. I am on the Armed Services Committee, I am the ranking member of the strategic forces, missile defense, nukes, space as a war-fighting domain. I have jurisdiction over all of that.
“We are able to know certain things about China as well and it’s the world we live in. We can react and the United States did react to that balloon as it came over and we’re pretty confident that the Chinese didn’t gather much.”
Fischer noted the Budapest Memorandum where Russia and the United States guaranteed protection for Ukraine in a non-proliferation of nuclear weapons agreement.
Despite Russia’s assurances for safety if Ukraine abandoned its nuclear defense, Russia invaded the country in 2022.
Fischer: “You don’t just slam the door. I don’t believe that we should be isolationists. I think we have to recognize the world we live in and deal with it with the number one objective to keep our country secure and safe.”