In early February of 2023, citizens of the United States – ‘land of the free and home of the brave’ – are told that they have a new menace to fear. Is it a nuclear-armed stealth drone? A killer robot that invades your home? Or a cyber attack that takes away your savings and steals your identity? The truth is far more terrifying: a balloon from China! For weeks, a bright white spy balloon, visible to the naked eye from the ground, loomed above the world’s most powerful empire. Following the lead of the White House, world politics reeled in terror beneath its terrible shadow.