The unauthorized entry of a suspected Chinese surveillance balloon into American airspace has provided a unique opportunity to examine the ability of Washington and Beijing to handle diplomatic crises. The incident leaves us wondering how the United States can better understand Chinese bureaucratic structure and decision-making and thus more effectively modulate its responses to unforeseen events. How will the two countries deescalate tensions when something more serious than a rogue balloon agitates the relationship? As the ability to interpret signaling accurately and maintain de-escalatory communication between the United States and China become more critical, so too will understanding the answers to these questions.
In an interview conducted by Oriana Skylar Mastro on April 13, Tyler Jost and Susan Thornton help contextualize the spy balloon incident within China’s bureaucratic decision-making.