As tensions between the United States and China continue to escalate, a Chinese spy balloon flying over U.S. airspace in Montana is a stark reminder that the country is preparing its citizens for war. Gordon Chang, a columnist and author who has written several books on China, recently tweeted, “The #ChineseSpyBalloon shows us that #China is preparing to go to war.”

In October, Chinese President Xi Jinping was appointed to his third term as General Secretary at the National Congress. He then appointed what is being referred to as the “war cabinet.” Chang explained, “We know what the Chinese are doing. They’re engaged in the fastest military buildup since the Second World War. They’re trying to sanctions proof their regime and most ominously they’re preparing China’s civilians for war.”

China’s recent actions are indicative of a larger strategy. Chang said, “The Chinese have engaged in a number of activities that violate our sovereignty, and some of those activities constitute acts of war and we did not respond. And it’s not just not responding in February 2023, it’s not responding over the course of decades. So, of course, the Chinese have this mentality right now. We have created the conditions for history’s next great war.”

China confirmed that the balloon is a civilian research craft that was blown off course by prevailing winds. However, Chang said, “There is no way that explanation is true.” The Biden administration has faced strong criticism from Republicans, including former President Trump, for not shooting down the craft.

The United States has opted against shooting down the balloon, arguing that doing so could endanger people on the ground. Instead, the U.S. government is tracking and monitoring the balloon closely. Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder, Pentagon press secretary, said in a statement, “The balloon is currently traveling at an altitude well above commercial air traffic, and does not present a military or physical threat to people on the ground.”

The discovery of the Chinese spy balloon in Montana is a reminder that the country is preparing for war. The United States has acted quickly to protect against the collection of sensitive information and is monitoring the balloon closely. It is up to the Biden administration to ensure that China does not continue to violate U.S. sovereignty and engage in activities that constitute acts of war.