Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-WI), who is in charge of the House China Select Committee, called a recent story that the Biden administration didn't impose sanctions on China after the spy balloon incident "troubling" and "scandalous," as Breitbart News reported.
“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.
The Chinese spy balloon incident in February was expected to galvanize the "U.S. bureaucracy" to push forward a prepared slate of actions against China, Reuters reported just days ago.
However, "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."
Office of China Coordination ("China House") policy division head Rick Waters reportedly told his staff on February 6:
"Guidance from S (Secretary of State) is to push non-balloon actions to the right so we can focus on symmetric and calibrated response," as reported by Reuters. In a few weeks, we can consider taking additional measures.
Reuters cites anonymous sources saying that "morale at China House" has been affected by the decision to delay sanctions on Chinese authorities for abuses against Uyghurs and export licensing requirements for telecom equipment company Huawei.
Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman, whose resignation was announced immediately after the report's release, was also quoted as saying that Secretary of State Antony Blinken had outsourced most responsibility for China policy to her.
The balloon incident was slammed by Gallagher, who said the Biden administration tried to "downplay" it and even hide it from locals until they 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," the lawmaker said.
"I don’t know if Wendy Sherman will be available to answer those questions going forward, given that she’s planning on leaving," he went on.
"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.”