30, September 2019
China is reportedly expected to unveil a nuclear-armed missile that could reach the United States in just 30 minutes during a parade celebrating the 70th anniversary of Communist rule in the country, amid heightened political, military and economic tensions with Washington.
According to Chinese media, the military may unveil the missile, dubbed the Dongfeng 41, during the ceremony on Tuesday.
The parade will included 15,000 troops, more than 160 aircraft and 580 pieces of military equipment, said a spokesman for the Ministry of Defense, Cai Zhijun.
He said last week that many new weapons “will be shown for the first time,” but declined to clarify whether they would include the Dongfeng 41.
No details of the missile have been released, but according to the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, it may have the world’s longest range at 15,000 kilometers.
The missile with a technology known as multiple independently targetable re-entry vehicles, (MIRV), is capable of flying at 25 times the speed of sound, according to analysts.
It also could reach the United States in 30 minutes with up to 10 warheads for separate targets, they said.
The current mainstay missile of China is known as the Dongfeng 31, which has a range of more than 11,200 kilometers. The missile puts most of the continental United States within reach.
Satellite images have shown China increasing the number of launchers for DF-41 and DF-31 missiles from 18 to as many as 36.
Other weapons include a supersonic drone and a robot submarine.
Pictures circulated on social media showing blurry images of a possible attack drone dubbed “Sharp Sword” and another drone, the DR-8 or Wuzhen 8, during preparation for a parade.
The Chinese military — with the second-highest annual spending after the United States — is working on fighter planes, the first Chinese-built aircraft carrier and nuclear-powered submarines.
The military’s last year spending rose 5 percent to $250 billion, according to Siemon Wezeman of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (Sipri).
According to Sipri, China has about 280 nuclear warheads, compared with 6,450 for the United States and 6,850 for Russia.
Beijing, however, has assured that it wants a “minimum credible nuclear deterrent” but will not be the first to use atomic weapons in a conflict.
This has prompted concern in the United States, with the US Defense Intelligence Agency saying in a report earlier this year that the world’s second largest economy “has developed nuclear, space, cyberspace and other capabilities that can reach potential adversaries across the globe.”
Beijing and Washington have been locked in a dispute over the South China Sea, which has been at the center of a long-running territorial row between China and several of its neighbors.
The US has been taking sides with China’s rivals in their territorial disputes in the busy sea, stepping up military presence in the region under the pretext of freedom of navigation operations in international waters.
China has constantly warned Washington that close military encounters by air and naval forces of the two countries in the region could easily trigger miscalculation or even accidents at sea or in air.
Washington-Beijing ties have further soured over the past months over a number of other issues, including a trade war as well as what China views as US meddling in Taiwan and Hong Kong.