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Opinion

One white balloon or "99 Red Balloons?"

TO THE QUICK - Jerry Tundag - The Freeman

The rumor could not be immediately verified that shrink referrals in the US have spiked over the past several days on account of one giant white Chinese balloon drifting across America from coast to coast. But if all the hysterics palpable on CNN are any indication, the agitation must have been massive and intense in the land of milk and honey.

I used "milk and honey" because I remember one of the big kicks we had growing up was to agitate bees by hitting it with a slingshot or poking it with a bamboo pole and then making a run for it. Often the bees won and we would all sport swollen eyes from bee stings. Our fathers would avenge us by smoking out the hives, after spanking us, of course.

And that is precisely what I think the Chinese wanted to do, get a big kick out of agitating the Americans, see how they react and perhaps learn from it as a bonus. If China wanted to spy on the US, do you think this technologically-advanced, space-capable country would rely on something as crude, visible, and slow? How Xi Jinping must be laughing.

Of course China had to put on a charade by feigning anger when the Americans eventually shot the balloon down after days of hemming and hawing. But China was not really angry. Everything was by design. The balloon was expendable. Otherwise, why use it at all? If it wanted to, it can spy with, say, a chip embedded in some device, remember?

Aside from having fun with the Americans, who knows what kind of impish mischief the Chinese must have wanted to play? One thing the Chinese have determined, and which the balloon caper has proven, is that the Americans have their eyes set on the usual but are not ready to deal with the unexpected and can get easily discombobulated.

And discombobulated the Americans got, from the White House to CNN. Don't you think it very funny, if it had not been so pathetic, for Joe Biden to strut like a peacock and announce proudly that one of the best stealth fighters of the world's greatest military, using the most modern heat-seeking missile, had just shot down, well, ehem, a balloon?

The US may be superior militarily, but China, sprung and nurtured from centuries of earlier civilization, is pretty much wiser and smarter and can play the brute strength of America against its own self. Just try to simmer down a bit, get a grip on all the hype, and think soberly of the balloon incident. Won't you agree that China is actually laughing secretly?

CNN has all but made second-rate news of the Turkey earthquake, the Tyre Nichols case, Biden's classified documents, even Ukraine, to focus on the balloon. And the funny thing is that days after shooting down the contraption, the US, as of this writing, still has not recovered the darn thing. How Winnie the Pooh must be grinning.

And yet, it may not all just be fun and laughter to China. Chinese culture is very hot on symbolisms. The white balloon could have referenced something more dire and serious, like the "99 Red Balloons", an ‘80’s anti-war song about balloons released by kids in fun over a border but got mistaken as an attack and sparks a war. China is truly a step ahead.

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