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29 Jan, 2019 15:33

China shows off new ‘Guam Killer’ missile, as tensions with US rise

China shows off new ‘Guam Killer’ missile, as tensions with US rise

China has unveiled a new intermediate-range ballistic missile that it claims can strike the US territory of Guam or its warships at sea. The show of strength comes as both countries square off over Taiwan.

The Сhinese government revealed footage of the Dongfeng-26 ballistic missile on state television on Sunday, according to the South China Morning Post. The missile was previously seen at a military parade in Beijing in 2015, and has officially been in service since last April, but has not yet been seen in action.

With a range of 3,000km to 5,741km (1,864 to 3,567 miles), the missile would be capable of striking targets in the US territory of Guam, or US aircraft carriers in the Pacific Ocean or South China Sea. The Dongfeng-26 can be fired from a mobile transporter, and can carry a 1,200kg-1,800kg nuclear or conventional warhead.

While the Pentagon has likely known about the missile for several years, the video reveal is “an attempt to reinforce the notion that the PLA has the capability to sink US carriers and inflict unacceptable damage on American forces,” China researcher Adam Ni told the SCMP.

“The latest drills are just another signal to the US about the prevails of escalation, including by intervening militarily in support of Taiwan against China,” Ni continued. “We are likely to see more [of these drills] if bilateral relations worsen.”

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The drills come as China seeks to assert its dominance in the region. China’s published military budget in 2018 was $175 billion, up from $151 billion in 2017. Some analysts say these figures are underreported, and that Beijing spends over $200 billion per year on its military.

As its expenditure grows, China has ramped up its militarization of the South China Sea, one of the most disputed waterways in the world. The US has responded by sailing warships past Chinese-occupied islands in the sea, in a bid to “challenge excessive maritime claims.” The Chinese Foreign Ministry has called the US ‘freedom of navigation’ operations “provocation.”

Beijing’s release of the Dongfeng-26 video was likely a response to the US sailing two vessels through the Taiwan Strait on Thursday. Under its ‘One China’ policy, Beijing considers Taiwan a part of the mainland, and Chinese President Xi Jinping vowed to unify Taiwan by any means necessary earlier this month.

“We do not promise to renounce the use of force and reserve the option to use all necessary measures,” he said. Two months previous, Xi told soldiers monitoring the South China Sea to make “preparations for fighting a war.”

Before sending the two ships through the Taiwan Strait, US Admiral John Richardson told reporters that the US Navy had not ruled out sending an aircraft carrier through the waterway.

With tensions rising, acting US Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan summed up the Pentagon’s geopolitical focus in a speech to department leadership earlier this month. He told the leaders to remain “focused on ongoing operations” but “remember ‘China, China, China,’” an anonymous official told Reuters.

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