Why China worries the Pentagon

by Peter Brookes
New York Post
October 6, 2009

REPLETE with Olympian fanfare, China just a few days ago “celebrated” the 60th anniversary of the founding and achievements of the People’s Republic.

Unfortunately, not everyone is celebrating — especially not military analysts.

They’re not alone: China has big human-rights problems, especially as regards restive minorities such as the Tibetans and Uighurs (Chinese Muslims). And Beijing has limited entry by foreign companies into China’s booming market of 1.3 billion people. Plus the Greens are unhappy with the “Middle Kingdom’s” belching smokestacks, which make it the world’s largest greenhouse-gas producer.

But it’s China’s military, which was proudly paraded through Tiananmen Square on National Day, that produces the biggest worries.

In a style reminiscent of the old Soviet Union, Beijing trotted out no less than 50 all-Chinese-made military systems during the spectacle. Many of the weapons weren’t brand-new — but naval attaches probably strained their necks to see at least one system: the land-based DF-21 ballistic missile.

This system — the world’s first ballistic missile capable of hitting a moving target at sea — could be used to take out US aircraft carriers in a Sino-American dust-up. The conventionally armed missile has maneuverable warheads and a range in excess of 1,000 miles.

The Pentagon brass are worried. Other than hammering the DF-21 before it launches, the Navy has no high-confidence defense against the new Chinese missile.

Also on the naval front, China is putting a lot of effort into power projection — that is, into being able to deploy its maritime might far beyond its coastal waters.

For decades, Beijing ignored its navy in favor of the army. But today the Chinese navy is going to sea like never before, including at least one world cruise. It has one of the world’s most robust shipbuilding programs, introducing more than 10 new ship and submarine classes since the early 1990s –giving Beijing the Pacific’s second-largest navy.

The Post’s article continues here.

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