U.S. failure to shoot down spy balloon tells China we are ‘incapable of defending ourselves’: expert

The United States has not shot down a Chinese surveillance balloon seen hovering over Montana, sending a message it will not defend itself against China, one expert says.

U.S. failure to shoot down spy balloon tells China we are ‘incapable of defending ourselves’: expert

U.S. military officials have opted against shooting down a Chinese spy balloon floating over Montana, and one expert told Fox News Digital China may interpret the inaction as the U.S. being "incapable" of defending its sovereignty.

"The Chinese are saying, 'You won't defend yourselves, we can do whatever we want,'" author and columnist Gordon Chang told Fox News Digital in response to a Chinese surveillance balloon flying over Montana the Biden administration has allowed to stay airborne.

"You have no sovereignty. That's the message that the Chinese are sending. And that's the message that (U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark) Milley is reinforcing. And that's the message that Biden is sending to China."

A senior administration official, who was not authorized to publicly discuss sensitive information, said President Biden was briefed and asked the military to present options on how to handle the surveillance balloon.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Milley advised against taking "kinetic action" because of risks to the safety of people on the ground. Biden accepted that recommendation.

Chang, author of "The Coming Collapse of China," told Fox News Digital the explanation against shooting down the balloon is "silly."

"The Chinese believe, because of our failure to shoot down the balloon, that we are incapable of defending ourselves for whatever reason, whether we want to protect the cows on the ground or we don't want to offend the Chinese," Chang said.

"Milley's advice is just wrong," Chang added. "And Milley's advice is just dangerous. Milley's advice is leading the Chinese to think that they should do whatever they want and that the United States will not respond."

Chang says the argument that shooting down the balloon is too dangerous is a "meaningless" position because "every course of action now, after decades of misguided policy, is risky and dangerous."

"The most risky and dangerous course of action is to continue what we have been doing by creating this risky and dangerous situation in the first place," Chang said. "We have created the conditions for war. That's not to say that we're the aggressor, but it is to say that we're allowing China to become an aggressor."

Biden has faced a multitude of calls from Republicans, including former President Trump, to shoot down the balloon. 

"If I were president, I would shoot the balloon down immediately," Chang said. "I would order Blinken not to go to Beijing, but go to Taipei instead. I would start closing China's four consulates in the U.S. I would strip the embassy staff down to just the ambassador and his family.

"I would order the closure of Chinese businesses in the U.S.. I would make it clear to China that there are costs for violating our sovereignty and committing acts of war against the United States of America."

The White House announced Friday that Blinken's trip to China to discuss the Russia-Ukraine war with Chinese officials and meet with President Xi has been postponed.

"It is unacceptable that this has occurred. After consultations with our interagency partners, as well as with Congress, we have concluded that the conditions are not right at this moment for Secretary Blinken to travel to China," a senior official said. 

Fox News Digital reached out to the White House for comment and was directed to a Friday background briefing in which a senior defense official said the U.S. "just couldn't buy down the risk enough to feel comfortable recommending shooting it down yesterday."

The Department of Defense did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Fox News Digital.

Associated Press contributed to this report