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The Balloon War

La guerra de los globos, EFE

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While most of the governments of Latin America compete in manufacturing poverty, in the northern hemisphere two powers of similar economic might face each other in the field of data collection.

The very public presence of Chinese-manufactured and managed balloons has sparked a debate about the espionage of the People’s Republic of China in the United States and its consequences.

The truth is that the Chinese balloon that visited us the first week of February has nothing to do with espionage but with meteorological research. True espionage is located in the network of ultra-modern satellites that China has put into orbit and that has the capacity to store; images; data and sounds, process them, and create maps of interest to the People’s Republic of China. And that is where the real danger lies.

Unfortunately, the satellites cannot be seen with the naked eye and therefore do not attract the attention of anyone including investigative journalists who do not write about this topic. I suppose that in this world of absurd polarizations, identifying satellites that constitute a danger to national security is an issue that does not lend itself to raising the decibels to the political controversies that are shaking the United States.

The issue, however, should be a priority for US foreign policy because the second wave of growth of the Chinese economy is coming. This growth will be promoted by the aggregate domestic demand of 400 million Chinese who are now the middle class. Those Chinese citizens have already discovered their strength by mobilizing in nationwide protests that upended the zero COVID-19 policy that imprisoned them in their homes.

This policy has produced as a side effect a tide of savings never seen before in China. Those savings are being spent today and to the extent that the productive machinery recovers its rhythm and normality prevails, the Chinese are going to be the most important demand for goods and services from the West that balances the tendency to recession that the economies of the United States and Europe.

Under these circumstances, the United States will have the leverage to negotiate with China a regulation on the use of satellites in order to limit espionage. Because for China, trade with the United States will have greater gravitation at this stage of its growth. So we can start to sleep peacefully Because, for China, trade with the United States will have greater gravitation at this stage of its growth. So we can start to sleep peacefully.

This article is part of an agreement between El American and the Interamerican Institute for Democracy.

Beatrice Rangel es directora del Interamerican Institute for Democracy, Managing Director de AMLA Consulting, responsable de negociar e implementar estrategias y adquisiciones de inversión corporativas en América Latina y el Caribe. Exmiembro ejecutivo de Wharton School de la Universidad de Pennsylvania // Beatrice Rangel is Director of the Interamerican Institute for Democracy, Managing Director of AMLA Consulting, responsible for negotiating and implementing corporate investment strategies and acquisitions in Latin America and the Caribbean. Former Executive Fellow of the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.