China’s test of hypersonic vehicle is part of a program to rapidly expand strategic and nuclear systems

China’s test of hypersonic vehicle is part of a program to rapidly expand strategic and nuclear systems

10/20/2021 5:46:00 AM

China’s test of hypersonic vehicle is part of a program to rapidly expand strategic and nuclear systems

Recent advances put China ahead of the United States in some emerging military technologies, analysts say.

Story continues below advertisementThe August test was confirmed by four individuals familiar with the matter, who, like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive intelligence.China builds advanced weapons using American chip technology

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China’s demonstration of hypersonic and orbital capabilities, first reported by the Financial Times, was shocking less for the technology, which its military has been developing for years, than for the fact that Beijing decided to test it at all, analysts say.

AdvertisementThese technologies enable states to deliver weapons, potentially with a nuclear warhead, against a target in a way that is difficult to track — unlike intercontinental ballistic missiles.“It’s amazingly provocative,” Mark J. Lewis, a former deputy undersecretary of defense for research and engineering who left in January, said while commenting on media reports of the test, which sources said involved launching a hypersonic vehicle into orbit before it descended into the atmosphere toward its target. headtopics.com

Story continues below advertisementThe question, analysts said, is what is China trying to accomplish with the test and its larger nuclear buildup?“This was a political decision to do this test now,” said Rebeccah Heinrichs, a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute who serves on the advisory group to U.S. Strategic Command. “This is clearly the Chinese government flexing its muscles. How is the U.S. government going to respond?”

AdvertisementSome, like Heinrichs, say the Biden administration needs “to make really big changes that show we’re serious about deterring Chinese aggression in the Indo-Pacific.”Former presidential envoy for arms control Marshall Billingslea said the United States must not only continue to modernize its nuclear deterrent but also pursue “critical new capabilities” such as a nuclear sea-launched cruise missile as well as nonnuclear medium-range ballistic systems.

Story continues below advertisementBut others, such as Jeffrey G. Lewis, director of the East Asia Nonproliferation Program at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies in Monterey, Calif., said: “The correct answer is, ‘Do nothing,’ ” he said. “We don’t have to participate in an arms race.”

China is building more than 100 new missile silos in its western desert, analysts sayBeijing on Monday disputed the report of a hypersonic test, with Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian saying the test involved a “regular spacecraft,” some parts of which “got detached before reentering the earth’s atmosphere, and burnt up over the east China Sea.” He said the test was for “peaceful uses of outer space.” headtopics.com

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AdvertisementZhao Tong, a Beijing-based senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, said China’s lack of transparency about its program means such tests risk being read in Washington as a fundamental shift toward an offensive nuclear posture. “China never declares where it is going to stop,” Zhao said. “It appears to the United States as an open-ended nuclear buildup.”

Story continues below advertisementZhao added that he believes Beijing is convinced that the United States is bent on containing China’s rise. “China perceives much more strategic hostility from the U.S., which increases the perception that the U.S. will more easily escalate conflict to a nuclear level,” he said.

Chinese jets menace Taiwan, pressuring U.S. support of island’s defensesPentagon spokesman John Kirby, like spokespeople at the White House and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, declined to confirm the hypersonic test. But, Kirby said, “we have made clear our concerns about the military capabilities China continues to pursue, capabilities that only increase tensions in the region and beyond.”

AdvertisementThe U.S. intelligence community in its annual threat assessment this year stated that Beijing will continue “the most rapid expansion and platform diversification of its nuclear arsenal in its history.” China intends to at least double the size of its nuclear stockpile during the next decade and to field a “nuclear triad,” referring to air-, sea- and land-based weapons systems, ODNI said. headtopics.com

Story continues below advertisement“Beijing is not interested in arms control agreements that restrict its modernization plans and will not agree to substantive negotiations that lock in U.S. or Russian nuclear advantages,” ODNI said. “China is building a larger and increasingly capable nuclear missile force that is more survivable, more diverse, and on higher alert than in the past,” including systems designed to ensure an intercontinental second-strike capability.

The head of U.S. Strategic Command, which is responsible for the military’s nuclear weapons mission, declined to confirm the Financial Times report. Butthat the “breathtaking expansion of strategic and nuclear capabilities” means that “China can now execute any possible nuclear employment strategy.”

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AdvertisementRichards has referred to China’s military advances as a “strategic breakout.”Story continues below advertisementAlthough China is unlikely to reach nuclear parity with the United States and Russia in the foreseeable future, the buildup of silos is significant by Chinese standards, as well as in international historical context, the

Bulletin of Atomic Scientists said in a report last month.“The number of apparent missile silos under construction is similar to the total number of nuclear warheads in the current Chinese stockpile; it exceeds the number of missile silos operated by Russia; it is approaching the number of silos operated by the United States; and it constitutes the largest silo construction since the United States and Russia established their ICBM forces during the Cold War,” the report said.

China has also tested a new submarine-launched ballistic missile for a quieter class of nuclear submarines it is planning to build. It is developing a strategic stealth bomber, antisatellite weapons, and lasers that can blind U.S. reconnaissance satellites, according to Dean Cheng, a senior research fellow at the Heritage Foundation.

AdvertisementStory continues below advertisementChina’s strategic weapons buildup has occurred in the midst of a broader investment in military modernization that dates to the beginning of the 21st century, and has accelerated in the last decade or so, according to Tai Ming Cheung, director of the University of California at San Diego’s Institute on Global Conflict and Cooperation.

By 2035, China wants to reach near parity with the U.S. military, he said. In the most recent five-year plan, Beijing has said it wants to speed up select parts of the modernization program for completion by 2027. By 2049, the centenary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China, “they want to challenge the United States for global leadership,” he said.

In some areas, parity has already been reached.Story continues below advertisement“The scary thing is not only how quickly the Chinese have been able to catch up with us” in hypersonics, “but also in some cases to exceed our capabilities,” said Lewis, the former Pentagon official, who is now executive director of the emerging technologies institute at the National Defense Industrial Association.

AdvertisementHe said it was his fear that the United States was falling behind in hypersonics that led him to return to the Pentagon in 2019. That was the year that the Chinese in a military parade showed off a hypersonic boost vehicle attached to a missile. The United States has yet to field such a weapon, he said, adding that the Army hopes to deploy its first system in 2023.

Commerce slaps export controls on Chinese firms that aid PLA weapons developmentThe Washington Post in April reported that China was using sophisticated American software to design semiconductors for supercomputers that enable hypersonic weapons advances. The Biden administration applied export controls to a Chinese firm that designs those chips, Phytium. But a Taiwanese company reported this year that it was still able to use American software to help Phytium make the chips in a Taiwanese foundry full of American equipment — apparently taking advantage of loopholes in the export control rules.

The big takeaway, said M. Taylor Fravel, director of the Security Studies Program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is U.S.-China dialogue about strategic stability “is incredibly urgent.” Developments are accelerating rapidly, he said, and “there just isn’t much communication about them between the U.S. and China.”

Christian Shepherd, Lily Kuo and Pei lin Wu in Taipei and Paul Sonne and Alex Horton in Washington contributed to this report. Read more: The Washington Post »

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China denies testing a nuclear-capable hypersonic missile, says it was a spacecraftChina has denied a report that it tested a nuclear-capable hypersonic missile in August, saying on Monday that the test was instead a 'routine spacecraft experiment.' A missile is still a 'spacecraft'. Well at least it will be hypersonic death. It is said that many countries have carried out such experiments. Other countries do this experiment, no one blames it. China has done it, and many people have come forward to say something. The world will never be democratic and fair.

China's reported hypersonic weapon test raises security concernsReports that China may have tested a new hypersonic weapon have grabbed the world's attention and divided national security experts about its strategic significance and whether the U.S. was falling behind in a new arms race. Pose a threat to the world, especially the United States.

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White House mum on reports of China testing nuclear missile, says admin welcomes 'stiff competition'White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Monday would not comment on reports that China tested a nuclear-capable hypersonic missile, but instead, said the United States welcomes “stiff competition,” while maintaining that the Biden administration does “not want that competition to veer into conflict.” I'm optimistic that nuclear war will never happen among US, China and Russia. Because we all will die if it happens. But sad to see that we are on the wrong way. We should embrace peace, cooperation, not conflict and race.

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