China Expert Speaks to UM Audience on Spy Balloon Controversy
The University of Montana’s Mansfield Center held a ZOOM conference on Monday featuring June Tuefel Dreyer, Professor of Political Science at the University of Miami and former Far East specialist at the Library of Congress.
Tiff Roberts was the moderator as Professor Dreyer held forth on the spy balloon incidents that have occurred over the past week.
A Far East Specialist Talks about the China Balloon Incident
Professor Dreyer said the world is asking, "What’s the big deal with a balloon over sensitive parts of the U.S. including Malmstrom Air Force Base in Montana?" and she replied, "They got caught."
Professor Dreyer explained the advantage of using a slow moving six-story spy balloon over a satellite is the opportunity for a long, slow look at the U.S. defenses.
“The advantage of using the balloon as opposed to the satellite is the satellite goes over quickly in a geosynchronous orbit,” she began. “And the advantage of the balloon is that it can fly much lower and it can ‘loiter’ so that's the reason for using a balloon because you have to ask them yourself: ‘If their satellites are so good, then why did they send the balloons in the first place?'"
Drawing on her vast years of experience in dealing with communist China, Professor Dreyer said the U.S. doesn’t understand or appreciate the fact that China does not have the U.S. doctrine of ‘separation of powers’. The state is all important.
“Another thing is the close cooperation in China between the civilian and the military sector,” she said. “I know we talk a lot about cooperation between our defense industries in the intelligence community, but as we used to say in my native Brooklyn, ‘You ain't seen nothin’ yet’. In fact, in the case of China, there is actually a law telling civilian entities that they must cooperate with military for information.”
The Professor Shared her Wide Sphere of Knowledge about China
Professor Dreyer also mentioned the near monopoly that communist China has on rare earth minerals that have become so vital to industry in the U.S. and around the world.
“Another area where they've got a virtual monopoly was rare earth (minerals),” she said. “There are 17 of these (rare earth minerals) and they're not really that rare. They're all over the place. Some countries have more than others, but what happened was, the United States outsourced its production. And so the 80 to 90 percent of rare earth (minerals), depending on whose statistic you believe, of these rare earths (minerals) are processed in China.”
Professor Dreyer also described an intense conflict several years ago with Japan, where a Chinese ship deliberately rammed several Japanese ships in contested waters between China and Japan and when Japan demanded international justice by taking a Chinese ship captain in custody the Chinese responded by cutting off their rare earth mineral supplies.
“The Chinese then said to the Japanese, okay, you're not going to give him up? Then we've decided not to sell your rare earths anymore,” she said. “Now, why is that important? Because these rare earth minerals are an absolutely necessary part of the catalytic converters in Japanese cars, and as we all know, the Japanese sell a lot of cars. And if they can't get the rare earths, they're in trouble.”
She Believes the Controversy between China and the U.S. will be 'Smoothed Over'
Professor Dreyer said the visit by U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken that was postponed after the news of the Chinese balloon broke last week will be ‘smoothed over’ and the visit will eventually be rescheduled.