Tuesday 22 October 2019

America will ignore this show of force at its peril

Ranks of Chinese troops (Mark Schiefelbein/AP)
Ranks of Chinese troops (Mark Schiefelbein/AP)

Malcolm Davis

With its display of military might, the Chinese Communist Party's 70th anniversary message was clear: China is a fully developed state with an advanced military capability designed to allow Beijing to challenge US strategic primacy.

The People's Liberation Army (PLA) modernisation process, which began in the early nineties but accelerated and broadened under President Xi Jinping, is seeing China move determinedly towards its goal of having a world-class military by 2035.

For China's neighbours, the parade should be an eye-opener.

Some of these systems imply a game-changing impact on future warfare.

The most significant equipment shown was the DF-17 missile with its DZ-ZF Hypersonic Glide Vehicle.

China, along with Russia, have a lead over the US in hypersonic weapons - missile systems which deliver a warhead at speeds greater than five times the speed of sound.

The DF-17 missile may carry either a nuclear or conventional warhead, and its speed is such that no defence against this weapon exists.

The Chinese also displayed the DF-41 intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), which has entered operational service. It is the most powerful ICBM in the world, is road-mobile and able to carry up to 10 nuclear warheads.

The systems on show highlight that China is developing "anti-access and area denial" capabilities to deny the US and its allies access and freedom of manoeuvre by striking them as far away from China as possible.

The US will need to find ways of countering this quickly. This parade was a warning that Western states ignore at their peril.

Malcolm Davis is a senior analyst in defence and strategy capability at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute

Irish Independent

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