China has released footage of a new intermediate-range ballistic missile that has enough range to strike United States territory, dubbed by some as the “Guam killer.”
The Dongfeng-26 (or DF-26) ballistic missile has a range of 1,864 to 3,567 miles, according to the South China Morning Post (SCMP). That means the U.S. island of Guam, located in the Pacific Ocean, would be within striking distance of the missile from mainland China. Experts have suggested the recent CCTV footage showing a successful test launch of the missile is a message directed at leaders in Washington.
Beijing wants to demonstrate “that it can hold at risk U.S. strategic assets, such as carriers and bases,” Adam Ni, a China researcher at Macquarie University in Australia, told SCMP.
“It’s an attempt to reinforce the notion that the PLA [People’s Liberation Army] has the capability to sink U.S. carriers and inflict unacceptable damage on American forces,” Ni explained. “Within the context of increasing strategic competition and tension between the two countries, the latest drills are just another signal to the U.S. about the prevails of escalation,” he added.
James Floyd Downes, who teaches comparative politics at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, also told SCMP that he saw the new footage as a warning directed at the White House.
“Beijing is demonstrating its military capacity and overall strength in power,” Downes said. “This is arguably a strategic power play and a sign to Washington and the Trump administration of its underlying military power … a key strategy taken directly from the realist playbook in international relations.”
Tensions have increased between the U.S. and China since last year, with President Donald Trump launching a trade war targeting hundred of billions of dollars in imports from the Asian nation. Talks to resolve the crisis are ongoing, with negotiators expressing optimism, but intelligence agencies and politicians have also raised alarm bells about China’s other actions in the U.S. Chinese multinational tech companies, such as Huawei and ZTE, have become the subject of intense scrutiny, with officials warning their devices and networks could be used to spy on Americans.
In the South China Sea, which Beijing claims as its territory despite the disagreement of much of the international community, the U.S. has pushed back by sending military ships and planes to monitor to the region. A leading Chinese general urged his country in December to use force to stop what Beijing sees as incursions by the U.S. military.
“If the U.S. warships break into Chinese waters again, I suggest that two warships should be sent: one to stop it, and another one to ram it,” Senior Colonel Dai Xu said.
But Beijing has publicly dismissed U.S. concerns about China. Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said earlier this month that anti-Chinese sentiment had reached a level of “hysteria” in Washington. State-controlled media also compared fears surrounding China in the U.S. to “McCarthyism.”