Chinese rockets warn US aircraft carriers to stay away

A DF-21D rocket.

Photographer: Greg Baker / AFP via Getty Images

China’s latest film launched in China into the world’s most militant body serves as a warning to two major U.S. targets: airspace and regional bases.

The rockets launched into the South China Sea on Wednesday included the DF-21D and DF-26B, the South China Morning Post reported, and named a person close to the People’s Liberation Army. Those weapons are central to China’s strategy to deter all military action off its east coast by threatening to destroy the region’s most important sources of US power projection.

“China is signaling to the US, its allies and partners that China has a response to the strikes of American aircraft carriers, a response that is always available and does not depend on deployment schedules,” he said. Carl Schuster, an adjunct faculty member of the Diploma and Military Science Program of the University of Hawaii Pacific and a former Director of Operations at the Joint Intelligence Center of the Pacific. “In fact, China says, ‘If the US puts two carriers in the South China Sea, we’ll send aircraft killer missiles there.'”

The launches show the US the growing cost of any armed conflict, with a high profile reminder of China’s growing arsenal of ballistic missiles at medium and intermediate space. This challenges American military superiority in Asia for the first time since World War II. President Xi Jinping unveiled the new PLA Rocket Force as part of a military parade in October, demonstrating the possibility that researchers at the University of Sydney warned could wipe out U.S. bases during the “opening hours of a conflict.”

A U.S. defense official who asked not to be identified told Bloomberg News that China fired four medium-range ballistic missiles this week in a series of military exercises. They land in the sea between China’s southern Hainan island and the disputed Paracel chain near Vietnam, the official said, not far from where U.S. carriers have been conducting exercises in recent weeks to overturn the Trump administration’s decision. affirm to challenge the sovereignty of Beijing.

The Chinese Ministry of Defense reiterated its claim that the exercises on Thursday were not aimed at one nation, without mentioning the launch of the rocket. However, ministry spokesman Senior Colonel Wu Qian accused “some American politicians” of trying to provoke a conflict between the two peoples, and told a briefing in Beijing that China “was not afraid.”

Within reach

China’s missile arsenal is now handling most of the Pacific’s allies

Sources: Center for Strategic and International Studies, the Heritage Foundation and the Office of the Secretary of Defense

The tests appeared intended for consumption in the US, rather than a domestic audience, with coverage on the country’s highly censored internet largely limited to foreign media messages. Earlier this week, China protested the flight of a U.S. U-2 spy plane at the training zone in the East China Sea, presumably to gain intelligence about the country’s capabilities.

“The goal is to test the capabilities of the troops,” said Li Jie, a Beijing-based naval expert who stopped short before confirming the missile test. “You could say it sends a warning to the US because the US has increased its military activities in the South China Sea.”

While the two nuclear powers have plenty of incentives to prevent a clash, the risk of escalation increases as the US and its allies try to push back against a more assertive Beijing. The U.S. has conducted a series of military exercises around the region in recent weeks and approved a landmark yacht sale to Taiwan – against the backdrop of a national election, President Donald Trump has tried to focus on China.

The recent exercises of the US Navy in the South China Sea are recorded joint operations by the USS Nimitz and USS Ronald Reagan carrier strike groups last month and separate exercises by the Reagan this month. Those movements follow Secretary of State Michael Pompeo on July 13th announcement clarifying US legal opposition to Chinese claims over most of a vital lane, parts of which are also claimed by Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam.

China has launched at least one other DF-26 rocket in recent weeks, according to the Communist Party’s Global Times characterized as a response to U.S. transportation operations. The paper had previously unleashed its “carrier-killer” missiles on Twitter – drawing a lack of lightning from the U.S. Navy, which remarked that the warships were “still there” after all.