What Do Bigfoot, Santa Claus, and China's DF-41 Threat Have in Common?steemCreated with Sketch.

in #china3 years ago (edited)


"Zhonghua Renmin Zhan Shilai! 中华人民战士莱!"

October 1, 2019, was a huge day for the Chinese. This was the day when a nation claiming to be 5,000 years old celebrated their nation's 70th birthday. The Dragon of the East celebrated this momentous occasion the only way they know how: by putting Beijing in a state of virtual lockdown (Gan, Wesoctt & Fang, Tan, Knotts), including the complete shutdown of ALL public transit between the city center and the Eastern district of Tongzhou (because, you know, navigating Beijing wasn't already difficult enough, right?), for a massive, chest-beating parade of PLA troops and hardware through the site of their most infamous massacre, Tiananmen Square.
And of course, the star of the entire dog-and-pony show was the Dongfeng-41 Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (Yeung, Griffiths and George). The DF-41 is alleged to have the longest range of any ICBM in the world, with the supposed ability to reach any point in the continental US in 30 minutes (22 for West Coast targets), and its ability to fire multiple warheads (10 at best, though 4 real ones and 6 decoys is considered more likely) enables it to destroy NYC "with no problem," according to one analyst, who happens to be a retired PLA General (Tracy You).
...Wow. Sounds ominous. I mean, this changes everything. Now that the Chinese have this kind of power, they've won, right?
Yeah, that's what China would like the world to believe. In this article, I'm going to examine a host of reasons why I'm not the slightest bit worried, beginning with the obvious one:

Namely, the fact that I do not, for a single instant, believe China has any such weapon.

Such Convenient Timing

The Dong Feng (East Wind) 41, or DF-41 for short, has been under development since 1986 according to Richard Fisher, a Chinese military specialist at the Pentagon (Gertz (1)). China officially declared they were working on this in 2014 (Missile Defense Project). Because of the timing of this announcement, there were rumors that it would be deployed in 2015 for the "70th Anniversary of the Victory of the Chinese People in the War of Resistance Against Japan," the clunky name China uses to try and claim credit for the Allied Victory in WW2. However, it was a no-show, getting only an article in South China Morning Post claiming it was "closer to operational. (Lau).
Frankly, that alone makes me suspicious about its sudden emergence. Not even the Manhattan Project or the Apollo Space Program took 35 years to develop. Also, China's history of making "sudden breakthroughs" in their big missile projects just in time for military parades that mark major anniversaries (for example, the DF-21D "Carrier-killer" was displayed for the first time during the parade marking the 70th anniversary of the end of WW2 (Minnick)) defies credulity somewhat. How convenient that a missile under development for 35 years, but never successfully deployed even as late as 2013 (Chen & Wu), suddenly and miraculously happens to be fully operational at exactly the time when China needs the people to think the Party has made them more powerful than ever, instead of focusing on protests that threaten to tear China's financial center away from China. Even Daily Mail Online, known for their anti-American slant but not for their shrewd powers of deduction, commented on the timing of the thinly-veiled attempt to throw out its chest at the U.S.

The chilling warning was issued after Beijing blasted American companies and organisations, including the NBA and Apple, for making comments or products in support of anti-government protests in Hong Kong.
It also came a day before China's President Xi warned that any attempts to divide the country would end in 'crushed bodies and shattered bones'. (Tracy You, Daily Mail)

Sina's Xi Yazhou's commentary on the missile was laden with the "oh, look; the West fears us now" rhetoric as well.

Most foreign media were "shocked" by Dongfeng-41's "10 warheads"... [why] does the Dongfeng-41 missile make these media that do not understand the relevant professional knowledge more nervous? In fact, it is simple. People are always more afraid of things that might really kill them, aren't they?

This same article (which, being released on 12 October, is more China's congratulatory note to itself for stirring up such a foreign media response to the weapon than a commentary on the weapon itself) goes on to obsessively compare the DF-41's range (of which the writer only gives estimates), size (of which he only gives guesses) and mobility (of which he offers nothing but speculation based on previous data pertaining to other Chinese missiles) against US and Russian missiles that have been in service since the Cold War (and which were deliberately "nerfed" by both of those powers due to treaties that China is not part of (Lendon)), and insist that the fact China has, in 2019, developed (supposedly) a longer-range, faster missile with more warheads than what the US and USSR (and by succession, the Russian Federation) have had for decades, is some kind of sign that China has become a superpower.
Now then, does it strike anyone as a bit odd that a missile whose last test prior to this parade was in May of 2018 (Gertz (2)) was suddenly deemed "operational" mere days before it was desperately needed as a prop in a chest-beating "we're tough enough to take on America" display? Put it together: a nation whose entire doctrine of war is based upon "appear strong when you are weak and appear weak when you are strong" is foaming at the mouth and expending a hell of a lot of effort to look strong during an important anniversary, when they are in crisis (Yahoo! Finance), and losing a trade war (Huang (1)).

And Even If They Do Have the Damned Things...

Even if anything about this missile is true (and I think I've already made my point that China wouldn't be broadcasting it if it was), then what does it mean? That they can strike US cities with a nuclear blast (assuming we don't shoot down the paltry few of these missiles that they actually have, which they are plainly afraid that we can do (Panda)). This is not exactly something new for the US to face. The entire reason the Cold War never went hot was the idea of "Mutually Assured Destruction:" neither we nor the Soviets could destroy each other without prompting the target of an attack to destroy his attacker in retaliation (Friedman). The advertised flight time of the DF-41 is roughly comparable to the time it would take US or Russian missiles to reach their targets, and still leaves the Us with the same window of response time we had throughout the Cold-War (Kiely).

The fact that China made such a point to state a travel time that was so precisely identical to the travel time of a Russian ICBM to the States, makes me even more convinced that this is not the "grand unveiling" of a new weapon but rather a theatrical production designed to say "we are the new USSR; A superpower capable of going toe-to-toe with the U.S." Had they claimed its travel time was less, it would have frightened the Pentagon into developing hypersonics (which they're already working on due to the renewed danger from Russia, a far more powerful nation on their worst day than China on their best (Gault), leaving China in a dangerous position in a few years when we completed the task. But by carefully measuring their declaration to make them equal to, but not greater than, threats we have faced before (assuming, again, that the missile is even capable of doing what they claim), then the Chinese government gained the "wow" factor they sought by appearing to be our peer, without prompting the real danger of us calling their bluff. It was a classic Chinese exercise in linguistic warfare, the only form of warfare they've ever been good at.
In summary, even if the DF-41 is not a massive fraud (and I'll reiterate that I believe it is), then worst-case scenario, we're right back where we were during the Cold War, but with a new rival.
And frankly, if that's where we stand, then by all accounts, the next 1989 is close at hand (Huang (2)).

We Have Seen This Script From China Before

Finally, let's recall the last time a Chinese missile made a big stir in the Western Media: the DF-21D "Carrier-Killer" missile. This anti-ship ballistic missile was, supposedly, capable of targeting a US aircraft carrier at sea and destroying it in a single shot (Kazianis). The truth, though, is it was never tested over water (Holmes), which is kind of a glaring omission in the testing of what is supposed to be an anti-ship missile, wouldn't you say? Additionally, the U.S. Navy is, by nearly all accounts, capable of preventing such a weapon from ever getting anywhere near its intended targets (Ackerman, Axe, Majumdar, Reed), and that is even if the carrier had to sail into their strike range in the first place, which it no longer does thanks to the Navy's aircraft-launch-capable stealth drone tanker (Mizokami).
China spent years (and more than a full percentage point of their GDP each of those years) developing the shiny new DF-21D missile, only to see it become obsolete before the world was even certain it could do what it was slated to do. They earned some headlines, won some firepower for their domestic propaganda machine, and gave the Pentagon the bullet points they needed to scare Congress into budgeting them more money for newer and more advanced toys, thus widening the technological gap between us and our nearest rival even further. Thus endeth a comprehensive list of what they accomplished.

So it is with their vaunted DF-41.

Works Cited

Ackerman, Spencer. "How to Kill China's 'Carrier-Killer' Missile: Jam, Spoof and Shoot." Wired. 16 Mar, 2012. Web. 21 Dec, 2019. https://www.wired.com/2012/03/killing-chinas-carrier-killer/

Axe, David. "The SM-6 Is the U.S. Navy's Most Important Missile (It Can Kill Almost Anything)." National Interest. 1 Feb, 2019. Web. 21 Dec, 2019. https://nationalinterest.org/blog/buzz/sm-6-us-navys-most-important-missile-it-can-kill-almost-anything-42987

Chen, Rogge & Wu, Sofia. "China Yet to Deploy 094 Sub, JL-2 & DF-41 Missiles: Security Head." Focus Taiwan. 15 Apr, 2013. Web. 21 Dec, 2019. http://focustaiwan.tw/news/aipl/201304150027.aspx

Friedman, George. "The Enchantment of Mutually Assured Destruction." Geopolitical Futures. 24 Oct, 2019. Web. 21 Dec, 2019. https://geopoliticalfutures.com/the-enchantment-of-mutually-assured-destruction/

Gan, Nectar. "Beijing Shuts Down for Commemoration Parade Rehearsal." South China Morning Post. 23 Aug, 2015. Web, 6 Nov, 2019. https://www.scmp.com/news/china/diplomacy-defence/article/1851796/beijing-shuts-down-commemoration-parade-rehearsal

Gault, Matthew. ".Russia’s New Nuclear Missiles Squeeze Response Time." Scientific American. 27 Mar, 2019. Web. 21 Dec, 2019. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/russias-new-nuclear-missiles-squeeze-response-time/

Gertz, Bill (1). "Manchu Missile Launch." Washington Free Beacon. 15 Aug, 2012. Web. 21 Dec, 2019. https://freebeacon.com/national-security/manchu-missile-launch/

Gertz, Bill (2). "Long-range missile test adds to growing Chinese arsenal." Washington Times. 25 Nov, 2019. Web. 21 Dec, 2019. https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2019/nov/25/long-range-missile-test-adds-to-growing-chinese-ar/.

Huang, Cary (1). "US-China Trade War: Who Wanted a Deal the Most? Just Look At The Concessions Made by Both Sides." https://www.scmp.com/comment/opinion/article/3033940/us-china-trade-war-who-wanted-deal-most-just-look-concessions-made

Huang, Cary (2). "Beijing’s Nightmare is Coming True. China is Nato’s New Communist Target." 15 Dec, 2019. Web. 21 Dec, 2019. https://www.scmp.com/week-asia/opinion/article/3041942/beijings-nightmare-coming-true-china-natos-new-communist-target

Holmes, James. "The Navy Is Ready To Kill China's Aircraft Carrier On The Open Sea." National Interest. 22 Nov, 2019. Web. 21 Dec, 2019. https://nationalinterest.org/blog/buzz/navy-ready-kill-chinas-aircraft-carrier-open-sea-98327

Kazianis, Harry J. "KAZIANIS: China's Carrier-Killer Missile." Washington Times. 31 Oct, 2013. Web. 21 Dec, 2019. https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2013/oct/31/kazianis-chinas-carrier-killer-missile/

Kiely, Eugene. "Clinton and Nuclear Launch Times." Factcheck.org. 26 Oct, 2016. Web. 21 Dec, 2019. https://www.factcheck.org/2016/10/clinton-and-nuclear-launch-times/

Knotts, Joey. "UPDATED: Prepare for (Even) More Road Closures This Weekend, Sep 21-22." The Beijinger. 20 Sep, 2019. Web, 6 Nov, 2019. https://www.thebeijinger.com/blog/2019/09/12/get-ready-more-road-and-subway-weekend-forbidden-city-closed

Lau, Jessie. "China's DF-41 Long-Range Nuclear Missile 'Closer to Operational'." South China Morning Post. 20 Aug, 2015. Web. 21 Dec, 2019. https://www.scmp.com/news/china/diplomacy-defence/article/1850988/chinas-df-41-long-range-nuclear-missile-closer

Majumdar, Dave. "Here Is Why the US Military Is Not In Panic Mode Over China's Carrier-Killer Missiles." National Interest. 20 Jun, 2016. Web. 21 Dec, 2019. https://nationalinterest.org/blog/the-buzz/here-why-the-us-military-not-panic-mode-over-chinas-carrier-16651

Minnick, Wendell. "China's Parade Puts US Navy on Notice." Defense News. 3 Sep, 2015. Web. 21 Dec, 2019. https://www.defensenews.com/naval/2015/09/03/china-s-parade-puts-us-navy-on-notice/

Missile Defense Project, "DF-41 (Dong Feng-41 / CSS-X-20)," Missile Threat, Center for Strategic and International Studies, August 12, 2016, last modified October 8, 2019, https://missilethreat.csis.org/missile/df-41/.

Mizokami, Kyle. "The Navy's Drone Tanker Will Fly Off an Aircraft Carrier and Refuel its Jets." Popular Mechanics. 18 Apr, 2017. Web. 21 Dec, 2019. https://www.popularmechanics.com/military/aviation/a26132/navys-carrier-drone-advances-mq-25/

Panda, Ankit. "After US Missile Defense Salvo Test Against ICBM, China Warns of Proceeding ‘Carefully’." The Diplomat. 1 Apr, 2019. Web. 21 Dec, 2019. https://thediplomat.com/2019/04/after-us-missile-defense-salvo-test-against-icbm-china-warns-of-proceeding-carefully/

Reed, John. "Navy Intel Boss: Ship Killer Missiles? Don’t Worry About ’Em." Foreign Policy 26 Apr, 2013. Web. 21 Dec, 2019. https://foreignpolicy.com/2013/04/26/navy-intel-boss-ship-killer-missiles-dont-worry-about-em/

Tan, CK. "Beijing on Lockdown for China's 70th National Day." Nikkei Asian Review. 30 Sep, 2019. Web, 6 Nov, 2019. https://asia.nikkei.com/Politics/Communist-China-at-70/Beijing-on-lockdown-for-China-s-70th-national-day

Wescott, Ben and Fang, Nanlin. "Beijing on High Alert Ahead of October 1 National Celebration." CNN. 30, Sep, 2019. Web, 6 Nov, 2019. https://edition.cnn.com/travel/article/beijing-october-1-crackdown-intl-hnk/index.html

Xi Yazhou. "How Powerful is Dongfeng 41: It Can Fly to New York With Four 500,000-Ton Nuclear Warheads." 12 Oct, 2019. Web, 21 Dec, 2019. https://mil.news.sina.com.cn/china/2019-10-12/doc-iicezuev1628988.shtml

Yeung, Jessie; Griffiths, James & George, Steve. "Here Comes the DF-41 Intercontinental Ballistic." CNN, 30 Sep, 2019. Web, 6 Nov, 2019. https://edition.cnn.com/asia/live-news/china-hong-kong-oct-1-live-intl-hnk/h_8f32198e99b215c5b57938048e950c65

You, Tracy. "Beijing's Nuclear-Capable Missile DF-41 'Can Level the Whole New York City with a Single Strike', Chinese Media Warns." Daily Mail. 14 Oct, 2019. Web, 6 Nov, 2019. https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-7571171/Chinas-DF-41-missile-Media-claims-level-New-York-City-single-strike.html

Yahoo! Finance. "China Financial Warning Signs Are Flashing Almost Everywhere." 29 Nov, 2019. Web. 21 Dec, 2019. https://ca.finance.yahoo.com/news/china-financial-warning-signs-flashing-210000536.html


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China must first win Russia and then challenge the United States.

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