Vehicles carrying DF-21 during parade in Beijing in 2015. Photo: Reuters.
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The US – China risks tension after the missile launch into the South China Sea


A source close to the Chinese military said that the country fired two anti-ship ballistic missiles, including the DF-26B from Qinghai and the DF-21D from Zhejiang, into the South China Sea on August 26 morning. Both bullets fell to the area between China’s Hainan Island and Vietnam’s Paracel Islands.

A day earlier, China said that the US U-2 reconnaissance was “provocative” when moving into the “no-fly zone”, where China exercises on August 25-29 in the Bohai area. off the north coast of this country.

The US Department of Defense on August 27 released a statement saying that China had tested four ballistic missiles during an illegal exercise around Vietnam’s Paracel Islands, questioning Beijing’s 2002 commitment to avoid provocative action. The US Department of Defense says these missile launches pose a threat to peace and security in the region. “Beijing’s actions, including missile tests, further destabilize the situation in the South China Sea,” the Pentagon said.

The DF-26 has a range of 4,000 km and can be used in either a nuclear strike or conventional attacks on land and sea targets. It is a prohibited weapon under the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty signed by the US and the Soviet Union at the end of the Cold War. When the US pulled out of the treaty last year, they said the reason was that China still deploys such weapons.

DF-21D has a range of 1,450 km, speed over 12,000 km / h, equipped with conventional or nuclear warheads equivalent to 300,000 tons of TNT. Both the DF-26 and the DF-21 are capable of attacking carrier strike groups and have been nicknamed “carrier killers”.

Vehicle carrying DF-21 during parade in Beijing in 2015. Photo: Reuters.

Derek Grossman, a security expert from the American consulting firm Rand, assessed the missile launch will further raise suspicions about the US’s intentions and will strengthen Washington’s assaults on Beijing in all aspects: diplomatic, economic and security. “The US military will be less likely to step back, because the entire government is trying to compete and deal with China both regionally and globally,” said Grossman.

Grossman believes a war between China and the US is unlikely, but warns of an armed conflict at risk of miscalculation. “If China fires another DF-21D and it gets close to an American carrier passing through the area, the US military can respond with force because they think China deliberately shot them but failed. target, “said Grossman. “The situation could escalate from there.”

Chen Gang, assistant director of the East Asia Institute at the National University of Singapore, said that China’s display of its DF-class missiles during past Beijing parades and their launch from distant places showed. they are not toys for display purposes only. From the launch site in Qinghai, the DF-26B flew about 2,500 km, while the DF-21D flew about 1,600 km from Zhejiang.

The missile launch took place when the US and China were stressed on many issues, from economics to security. In 2017, US President Trump named China and Russia as competitors in his speech on the national security strategy. In 2018, James Mattis, the US Defense Secretary at the time, came up with a defense strategy with a clear priority that the United States must be ahead of China. The same year, the Trump administration outlined its goal of promoting a free and open Indo-Pacific as China’s presence across the region grows.

“The US continues to test China’s limits in Taiwan and South China Sea issues, this promotes China displays military might to show Washington that even the US aircraft carrier cannot show full power near the Chinese coast, “said Song Zhongping, a military commentator in Hong Kong.

US Defense Secretary Mark Esper said the Chinese government over the years modernized to develop a “world-class” military and therefore increasingly took drastic action in the South China Sea and East China Sea.

Wu Qian, a spokesman for China’s Ministry of Defense, said in a regular news conference on Aug. 27 that the military exercises in the South China Sea did not target any specific countries, but called on the US curb.

“China opposes and is not afraid of US provocations. We urge some American politicians to evaluate reality in an objective way, stop provocations and bring US-China relations back to normal,” he said. Wu said.

Malcolm Davis, senior analyst at the Australian Institute of Strategic Policy, agrees with Grossman and said the missile tests would further raise concerns about China’s intentions and challenge due to China’s military capabilities. National poses.

“The US may not respond to this test by changing its foreign policy stance, but the US will find that it has to take China’s missile capabilities very seriously,” Davis said.

Steve Tsang, political scientist from University College London, said The prospects for the US-China relationship in the future are very negative, the US Navy will continue free navigation operations in the South China Sea, or increase them as a response to missile launches.

Isaac Kardon, an expert from the China Maritime Research Institute at the US Naval University, said that while the missile tests are likely to give momentum to the “hawk” stance in Beijing and Washington, the risk of climbing The tension scale between the two armies was still quite low, because “they were elders interacting with each other very cautiously”.

Zack Cooper, an expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies at the American Enterprise Institute, said that the missile test was essentially no problem. “But I think it is being used to demonstrate that US forces operating in the region are facing an increased risk,” he said.

Phuong Vu (According to the SCMP)

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