China sent a message to President Joe Biden this past week that "we can fly a balloon over the airspace of the United States of America and they don't do anything to stop us," Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., said Sunday.
"They calculated this carefully with a message embedded in it," Rubio told CNN's "State of the Union." "It's not just the balloon, it's the message they're trying to send the world, that we can do whatever we want and America can't stop us.
"If they're not going to be able to stop a balloon from flying over U.S. airspace, how is America going to come to your aid if we invade Taiwan, take land from India, or islands from the Philippines in Japan."
Further, Rubio stressed the Pentagon's reports about Chinese balloons coming into U.S. airspace during former President Donald Trump's administration leave out the "unprecedented" truth that this time the balloon went over nuclear missile silos and U.S. military bases.
"The existence of balloons is not a mystery to people in that field," Rubio said. "What we've never seen, what is unprecedented — whoever the source is at the Department of Defense would have to acknowledge this — what is unprecedented is a balloon flight that entered over Idaho, over Montana, all these sensitive military installations, Air Force bases, ICBM fields, that's unprecedented.
"We've never seen this. This is no comparison to anything that may have happened up to this point."
The balloon sent leading up to Biden's State of the Union address and before Secretary of State Antony Blinken was to visit China means it is not a coincidence.
"We need to understand clearly the messaging behind this," Rubio said.
Many questions must be answered about the balloon, including why there was no action taken earlier, and why its existence was not disclosed earlier to the American public.
"I don't think the trajectory of where this balloon was going was a mystery because of the prevailing winds, the direction it was headed," said Rubio.
Meanwhile, Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., has accused Biden of "dereliction of duty" by allowing the balloon to fly across the United States, and Rubio said he agrees.
"They didn't want have their hand forced on canceling the Blinken visit so they didn't want to have to talk about it," Rubio said. "Why didn't the president go on television and explain what we're dealing with here and why he's made the decisions he's making and what they intend to do.
"I don't understand why he wouldn't do that. That is the beginning of dereliction of duty."
Also, swift action must be taken on such things, Rubio added.
"That's part of one of the things the Chinese are trying to message, and that is the U.S. had to see this coming and decided they couldn't or wouldn't do anything about it early on and had to wait until this thing went across the middle of the country," Rubio said.
The takeaway, he concluded is China has and will continue to be the "primary strategic adversary of the United States" and "we should be focused on it."
"What they're trying to do is create a world in which they're the most powerful nation and the United States is a great power," he said. "That is what they believe to be the case, that is what they're working on. We have to determine whether we're going to allow the world to head in that direction."
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