• Thu
  • Dec 18, 2014
  • Updated: 5:56pm

China's nuclear missile drill seen as warning to US not to meddle in region

Military mouthpiece releases photos of drills involving ICBM able to reach American West Coast after Pentagon upgrades forces in Japan

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 23 January, 2014, 3:56am
UPDATED : Thursday, 23 January, 2014, 5:10am

The People's Liberation Army has for the first time released photos of its most advanced intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) in action - a move seen as a response to US military moves in the region.

The 17 photos published on the PLA Daily's website on Tuesday provided the first glimpse of a live drill involving the Dongfeng-31 since its delivery to the Second Artillery Corps in 2006.

The missile has an estimated range of nearly 10,000 kilometres - enough to deliver a nuclear warhead to the capitals of Europe or the west coast of the United States. Military experts said the release was a warning to the US not to interfere in the country's territorial disputes with Japan over the Diaoyu Islands, or Senkakus, in the East China Sea.

Macau-based military observer Antony Wong Dong cited the Pentagon's decisions to send a dozen advanced F-22 fighter jets to Okinawa and replace the USS George Washington with the younger USS Ronald Reagan at Yokosuka Naval Base near Tokyo.

"The disclosure of the Dongfeng-31 at this time obviously aims to respond to the United States' two big military moves in Japan, which make Beijing believe it is going to meddle in the territorial disputes between China and Japan," Wong said.

Several of the photos published by the PLA Daily were also posted on the newspaper's official Sina Weibo account. It was unclear when the drill took place; the captions said sometime this winter.

The pictures showed a missile fired from a large launcher mounted on a 16-wheeled truck. Operators were shown inside a military camp dressed in protective suits, suggesting that the missile force was simulating the launch of an armed warhead.

The caption cast the exercise as defensive preparation, saying the soldiers were simulating how to disrupt an enemy's missile attack. The pictures show the launcher was erected on the truck and ready for firing.

Hong Kong-based defence analyst Ma Ding-sheng said the pictures indicated that the PLA was more confident about showing off its military hardware after decades of secret development.

"The PLA realises that it needs to increase its transparency, which would also provide them more opportunities to show off their military muscle, as well as quiet questions from the US and other Western countries," Ma said, adding the missiles had so far appeared to help deter threats.

"I doubt whether the missile is capable of hitting the US, although they claim it has a range up to 10,000 kilometers," Ma said. "All its live-launch drills have happened inside Chinese territory, within 5,000 kilometers. And we never see the PLA shooting missiles to the Western Pacific."

Non-operational versions of the Dongfeng-31 and the more advanced Dongfeng-31A were displayed publicly on October 1, 1999, the 50th anniversary of the People's Republic of China. The Donfeng-31 is the country's second generation of ICBM, replacing the earlier Dongfeng-4. It was formally delivered to the strategic missile defence force in 2006.

The Pentagon said at the time that the weapon was built using US missile and warhead secrets obtained through espionage and illegal transfers of technology.


For unlimited access to:

SCMP.com SCMP Tablet Edition SCMP Mobile Edition 10-year news archive



This article is now closed to comments

As opposed to the many friends that the US and Japan have? There's no such thing as friendship in international relations, only interests. US-Japan relations is a master-slave relationship and how many will fully back them in a China conflict?
The actions of global hegemon is no more justifiable. The world is turning to multi-polar order and the hegemony of US over the globe is perishing with every second. China's economic progress along with ICBM development is clear indication of its strong opposition to US polices. China's ICBM can hit coastal areas of US and entire Europe. This is an alarm for US to not to interfere in Sino-Japan territorial dispute.
"I doubt whether the missile is capable of hitting the US, although they claim it has a range up to 10,000 kilometers...All its live-launch drills have happened inside Chinese territory, within 5,000 kilometers."
This defense analyst Ma Ding-sheng sounds like a moron. If range but not other problems such as multiple entry warheads, decoys and accuracy in targeting that he is talking about, jet propulsion power of rockets has been amply demonstrated by numerous Chinese satellite launches with huge payloads and in the recent moon landing.
Betcha he doesn't know how to calculate the escape velocity familiar to many HK Form 6 students, let alone the conditions needed to put a satellite into a trajectory with a given eccentricity.
Incidentally, many foreign satellites are now launched by Chinese rockets. The way things are going, China already owns this business.
The challenges and difficulties between the second and third generation of ICBMs are very complicated, and the intelligence I’ve gathered tells me that China is still capable of overcoming many problems, even though they have spent more than 20 years to develop it. It is one of the 10 longest range ICBM developed by China. Good China-U.S. relations matter not only to the two countries, but also to the whole world States would like to strengthen dialogues and cooperation in bilateral and multilateral spheres, manage differences and advance new-model relations between major powers.
Jpinst is absolutely correct in his comments. China must face the facts, send some missiles to the US and what would happen? Will the Americans and their powerful allies do nothing? Any misguided attempt by China to scare the US would be a major blunder which would see missiles sent to annihilate China's military installations and perhaps even some cities to teach it a very costly lesson in warfare. Let's hope we don't see that happen.
China is foolish if it thinks it could take on America, let alone Japan. China's biggest problem is that it has no friends, save for North Korea and maybe Cambodia and Iran (all weak and worthless powers). Any conflict involving China, will be with China fighting all by herself. Sure the Russians love to sell them hardware, but at the end of the day, the Russians are not going to risk huge losses to take on the West, just to defend an antagonistic China.
Yes, we love it when the PLA has drills. Our satellites record every bit of data, and our computers analyze the possible variations. Then we reorient our missiles...and we wait.
i think what is most scary is that some people semes to wish to put the whole world into flames just to prove a point or to not lose face. we already have had 2 world wars , do we realy wish to have another one and this time with nuclear weapon.
China has nothing to fear as long as Obama is President.
Obama is weak and afraid of China.
China should be on guard for US economic and internet tricks.
China is an emerging global power. It is militarily, politically and economically a stable country. Every state has the right to go beyond limits for the sake of securing its borders from any type of external aggression and also to safeguard its national interest. China is an emerging threat as well to the global hegemony of USA. To counter the threat posed by USA to China, it is developing sophisticated weapons into its military realm for the sake of countering the US hegemony in the Asian region. Development of these types of missiles will bring China on its way to a ballistic missile force based around road-mobile systems which will greatly improve Chinese nuclear ballistic missile survivability and will complicate the task of defeating the Chinese threat.



SCMP.com Account