Tag Archives: carrier group

China tells U.S. not to play with fire over Taiwan

China paper tells U.S. not to play with fire over Taiwan

(Reuters) – China’s top official newspaper warned on Friday that “madmen” on Capitol Hill who want the United States to sell advanced weapons to Taiwan were playing with fire and could pay a “disastrous price,” as the Obama administration nears a decision on a sale.

The People’s Daily, the main paper of China’s ruling Communist Party, said the United States should excise the “cancer” of the law which authorizes Washington’s sale of weapons to the self-ruled island of Taiwan that China considers its own territory.

Taiwan’s biggest ally and arms supplier, the United States is committed under a 1979 law to supply it with the weapons it needs to maintain a “sufficient self-defense capability.”

Taiwan hopes to buy 66 late-model F-16 aircraft from the United States, a sale potentially valued at more than $8 billion and intended to phase out its remaining F-5 fighters.

The arms sale debate has been building steam in the United States, with U.S. Senator John Cornyn, a Republican from Texas, where Lockheed Martin Corp manufactures the F-16, saying killing the sale would cost valuable U.S. jobs.

“At present, some madmen on Capitol Hill are making an uproar about consolidating and expanding this cancer,”
the People’s Daily said in a commentary, adding these politicians were “wildly arrogant.”

“If these crazy ideas come to fruition, what kind of predicament will Sino-U.S. relations find themselves in?”
the paper wrote.

The commentary appeared under a pen name “Zhong Sheng,” a name suggesting the meaning the “voice of China,” which is sometimes used to reflect higher-level opinion.

While China and the United States have sparred over everything from trade, Tibet and the internet over the past few years, ties have improved drastically following President Hu Jintao’s visit to the United States in January.

Relations between the world’s two largest economies have “not easily reached the point where they are today, and need to be cherished and protected to the greatest extent,” the commentary wrote.

“Some people want to turn back the tide of history, but they must be clear about the disastrous price they will have to pay,”
it added.

“A word of advice for those muddleheaded congressmen: don’t go too far, don’t play with fire.”

U.S. President Barack Obama is due by October 1 to say what, if anything, his administration plans to do to boost Taiwan’s aging air force.

Beijing strongly opposes the potential arms sale to the island it deems an illegitimate breakaway province. But Taiwan says it needs the jets to counter China’s growing military strength.

The request for the new F-16s has been pending informally since 2006. Taiwan in 2009 also requested an upgrade to its 146 old F-16 A/B models. Then-President George H.W. Bush sold Taiwan its first F-16s in 1992.

Analysts have told Reuters a full package of new jets is unlikely to be approved by the Obama administration, but that it may instead offer Taiwan an upgrade on existing F-16A/B jets worth up to $4.2 billion.

(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Nick Macfie)

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China Testing Ballistic Missile ‘Carrier-Killer’

China Testing Ballistic Missile ‘Carrier-Killer’

Last week, Adm. Robert Willard, the head of U.S. Pacific Command (PACOM), made an alarming but little-noticed disclosure. China, he told legislators, was “developing and testing a conventional anti-ship ballistic missile based on the DF-21/CSS-5 [medium-range ballistic missile] designed specifically to target aircraft carriers.”

What, exactly, does this mean? Evidence suggests that China has been developing an anti-ship ballistic missile, or ASBM, since the 1990s. But this is the first official confirmation that it has advanced (.pdf) to the stage of actual testing.

If they can be deployed successfully, Chinese anti-ship ballistic missiles would be the first capable of targeting a moving aircraft-carrier (.pdf) strike group from long-range, land-based mobile launchers. And if not countered properly, this and other “asymmetric” systems — ballistic and cruise missiles, submarines, torpedoes and sea mines — could potentially threaten U.S. operations in the western Pacific, as well as in the Persian Gulf.

Willard’s disclosure should come as little surprise: China’s interest in developing ASBM and related systems has been documented in Department of Defense (.pdf) and National Air and Space Intelligence Center (.pdf) reports, as well as by the Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI) and the Congressional Research Service. Senior officials — including Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair (.pdf) and Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Gary Roughead — have pointed to the emerging threat as well.

In November 2009, Scott Bray, ONI’s Senior Intelligence Officer-China, said that Chinese anti-ship ballistic missile development “has progressed at a remarkable rate.” In the span of just over a decade, he said, “China has taken the ASBM program from the conceptual phase to nearing an operational capability.… China has elements of an [over-the-horizon] network already in place and is working to expand its horizon, timeliness and accuracy.”

When someone of Bray’s stature makes that kind of statement, attention is long overdue.

Equally intriguing has been the depiction of this capability in the Chinese media. A lengthy November 2009 program about anti-ship ballistic missiles broadcast on China Central Television Channel 7 (China’s official military channel) featured an unexplained — and rather badly animated — cartoon sequence. This curious ‘toon features a sailor who falsely assumes that his carrier’s Aegis defense systems can destroy an incoming ASBM as effectively as a cruise missile, with disastrous results.

Likewise, Chinese media seem to be tracking PACOM’s statements about this more closely than the U.S. press. The graphic above is drawn from an article on Dongfang Ribao (Oriental Daily), the website of a Shanghai newspaper.

Beijing has been developing an ASBM capability at least since the 1995-96 Taiwan Strait Crisis. That strategic debacle for China likely convinced its leaders to never again allow U.S. carrier strike groups to intervene in what they consider to be a matter of absolute sovereignty. And China’s military, in an apparent attempt to deter the United States from intervening in Taiwan and other claimed areas on China’s disputed maritime periphery, seems intent on dropping significant hints of its own progress.

U.S. ships, however, will not offer a fixed target for China’s DF-21D anti-ship ballistic missiles. Military planning documents like the February 2010 Joint Operating Environment (.pdf) and Quadrennial Defense Review (.pdf) clearly recognize America’s growing “anti-access” challenge, and the QDR — the Pentagon’s guiding strategy document — charges the U.S. military with multiple initiatives to address it.

In a world where U.S. naval assets will often be safest underwater, President Obama’s defense budget supports building two submarines a year and investing in a new ballistic-missile submarine. And developing effective countermeasures against anti-ship ballistic missiles is a topic of vigorous discussion in Navy circles. The United States is clearly taking steps to prevent this kind of weapon from changing the rules of the game in the Western Pacific, but continued effort will be essential for U.S. maritime forces to preserve their role in safeguarding the global commons.

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