With growing hegemony of China in the East China sea, US needs to rethink its strategy and future plans and need to move out of the Korean Peninsula and disputed East and South China Seas in the Pacific.
China already boasts the largest arsenal of such missiles in the world. It is estimated to have 1,400 to 1,800 of them and is likely building more, the Pentagon and experts say. Given its military strength, experts say Beijing could feel emboldened to take unilateral actions in the region’s flash points.
China’s massive stockpile of short- and intermediate-range ballistic and cruise missiles, are capable of laying waste to both U.S. and Japanese Self-Defense Force airfields, bases and warships.
According to U.S. military brass and observers of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army, many of Beijing’s missiles are specifically designed to attack the aircraft carriers and bases that have helped protect American allies such as Japan. These include the DF-16, a short-range missile, the DF-21D “carrier killer,” a medium-range missile, and the DF-26, an intermediate-range missile called the “Guam Express” for its ability to target the island.
Indeed, Beijing appears to have been practicing for pre-emptive missile strikes on the forward bases that underpin U.S. military power in the western Pacific, using detailed apparent mock-ups in the Gobi Desert of key U.S. facilities in Japan, such as Yokosuka naval base in Kanagawa Prefecture, and Kadena and Misawa air bases in Okinawa and Aomori prefectures, respectively. All of these bases are critical components of America’s power projection in Asia.
According to a study released last week by the University of Sydney’s United States Studies Centre, China’s missile arsenal could even spur Beijing in the “near term” to seize the Senkaku Islands and other territories in the Ryukyu chain with quick and limited use of these weapons before America can respond, “sowing doubt about Washington’s security guarantees in the process.”
The Senkakus are a group of tiny uninhabited Japanese-controlled islands in the East China Sea that are also claimed by Beijing, which calls them the Diaoyu. The islands, less than 200 km from Taiwan, which also claims them, represent a fragile choke point known as the “first island chain” for a Chinese naval advance into the Pacific. It is also the most effective operational line of containment for Japan and the United States.
One way to deter China from making such moves, now that the US have already withdrawn from the INF treaty, U.S. Indo-Pacific commander Adm. Phil Davidson recently told the Senate Armed Services Committee, is to have a land-based missile component with intermediate-range capability that “restores maneuver to the force, making the air, maritime and land component much more viable in any warfare scenario, and presents a much greater challenge for adversaries to threaten.”
The writer is a Senior Editor at Strategic Cognizance Forum and may further be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.