New missile signals China’s resolve to counter THAAD
Published: May 10, 2017 10:23 PM

China's Ministry of National Defense confirmed Tuesday that the People's Liberation Army Rocket Force had conducted an operational test for a new missile recently in the Bohai Sea, which had achieved the expected results. Observers believe the move demonstrates that the nation's commitment to counterbalancing the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) anti-missile system is by no means an empty bluff.

It was only two weeks ago that Chinese Defense Ministry spokesperson Yang Yujun said Beijing will continue real combat-oriented military drills and test new weapons to safeguard national security in response to the THAAD roll-out. There is thus a prevailing belief that the latest missile test is a part of the anti-THAAD program Yang mentioned.

While the exact date of the test and type of weapon are unknown, a photo which showed possible wreckage from the missile with the letters "E/ADF-26B" has gone viral online. Many believe it is a modified DF-26 intermediate-range ballistic missile, which is referred to by netizens as the "Guam Killer" given its capability of conducting intermediate precision strikes against US bases on Guam in the Western Pacific. The National Interest described it as "something the US Navy has to take very seriously."

According to media reports, the new type of DF-26B has an electromagnetic pulse, which can jam enemies' radar. That's why it is also known as a powerful tool to counter THAAD.

Although Washington and Seoul have insisted that the deployment of the THAAD system in South Korea is aimed at countering the nuclear and missile threat from Pyongyang, it is widely known that the shield's monitoring scope and intercept range far exceed the needs of South Korea's defense. A more critical significance of the installation is to complete the US' global missile defense system.

Yet the world needs a strategic balance among major powers. Once Chinese and Russian missile systems are exposed to US radar, the balance is jeopardized. The deployment will only add fuel to a regional arms race, do harm to regional stability and worsen the tension on the Korean Peninsula. Washington will have miscalculated if it thinks other countries will eventually accept THAAD.

There has been no lack of discussions over countermeasures against THAAD among the Chinese public, including the use of economic leverage. But it is after all an issue of the military and security, which can only be effectively settled with military and security measures. Only by boosting China's strategic deterrence can the nation reach the goal of subduing the enemy without fighting.

The latest weapons test shows that Beijing is proactively improving its capability of defense and counterattack. It also delivered a message to the world - never underestimate China's will and strength to safeguard its own security as well as regional peace and stability.