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The Observer view on the real threat behind China’s spy balloon | Observer editorial

Washington and Beijing need to resume talks quickly before the hawks bring the world to war

It must be admitted that the flap over an enormous Chinese balloon that flew or blew, unannounced, over the US and Canada last week has a certain funny side. Pentagon generals went on high alert, fearful that their missile silos in Montana were being spied on. Joe Biden, not normally a trigger-happy man, had to be persuaded not to shoot it down, and then changed his mind. Republicans accused the president of being weak on balloon defence. Red-faced officials in Beijing scrambled to talk the over-excited Americans down.

The balloon, most likely a clandestine surveillance device, was ultimately deemed not to pose a physical threat. The Chinese, while insisting it was a weather device accidentally gone astray, nevertheless apologised.

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