Tensions continue to grow as military power and strength is flexed between two of the world’s super powers.
China’s latest volley of missile launches into the world’s most hotly contested body of water served as a warning to two key U.S. targets: aircraft carriers and regional bases.
The missiles launched into the South China Sea on Wednesday included the DF-21D and DF-26B, the South China Morning Post reported, citing a person close to the People’s Liberation Army. Those weapons are central to China’s strategy of deterring any military action off its eastern coast by threatening to destroy the major sources of U.S. power projection in the region.
“China is signaling to the U.S., its allies and partners that China has an answer to America’s aircraft-carrier strike groups, an answer that is always available and not dependent on deployment schedules,” said Carl Schuster, an adjunct faculty member of Hawaii Pacific University’s diplomacy and military science program and a former operations director at U.S. Pacific Command’s Joint Intelligence Center. “In effect, China is saying, ‘If the U.S. puts two carriers in the South China Sea, we send aircraft carrier-killer missiles there.’”
The launches show the U.S. the growing cost of any armed conflict, with a high-profile reminder of China’s increasing arsenal of medium- and intermediate-range ballistic missiles. This is challenging American military superiority in Asia for the first time since World War II.
President Xi Jinping rolled out the new PLA Rocket Force as part of a military parade in October, showcasing a capability that researchers at the University of Sydney warned could wipe out U.S. bases in the “opening hours of a conflict.”
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