The Pentagon released a report on China's military strength, and the number of intercontinental ballistic missiles owned by China has increased from 80 to 2021 in 150, and if the United States wants to launch a preemptive nuclear strike against China, China's nuclear counterattack strength will not be underestimated. The author of this article, Cai Yi, a scholar of international relations in Taiwan and executive director of the Center for East Asian Integration, took stock of the latest process of China's missile development and pointed out that the deployment of a large number of missile silos will be a leap in Chinese mainland nuclear strike force.

The Pentagon of the U.S. Department of Defense released an annual report in November 2022 called the Report on Military and Security Developments Involving the People's Republic of China. The document includes extensive observations of rapid developments in key areas amid ongoing tensions between the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) and the two major powers of the United States and China. The most striking part of the report is the estimate that the PLA Rocket Force currently has 11 intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) and 300 ICBM launch platforms. Compare the annual report released at the same time last year: China has 300 intercontinental ballistic missiles and 150 launch stations, and the number of missiles will double in just one year, which is a bit strange. Some people speculate whether the United States is deliberately exaggerating China's nuclear force in an attempt to create an atmosphere of "China threat theory".

According to the Pentagon's 2022 report on China's military power of 300 missiles, 200 of which should belong to the latest Dongfeng-41 intercontinental missiles, according to reports, the DF-41 can carry ten nuclear warheads of 20,30 tons or six nuclear warheads of 200,400 tons or <> million tons of TNT, according to which the number of nuclear bombs in China is bound to far exceed the estimates of various foreign agencies. According to estimates by U.S. nuclear experts, China needs to deploy at least more than <> intercontinental missiles to carry out an effective "secondary nuclear counterattack" after a U.S. nuclear strike, and can be called a truly strategic deterrent nuclear strike force.

Time required for missile launch and risk assessment in a combat-ready situation. (Courtesy of the author)

According to the report on China's military power released by the US Department of Defense in recent years, the number of intercontinental ballistic missiles possessed by China has increased from 80 to 2021 in 150, because the limited number of missiles and China's insistence on a policy of no first use of nuclear weapons make the United States not afraid of China's strategic nuclear deterrent. The "presumption" of the United States is to preemptively destroy most of China's intercontinental nuclear missiles, and then use the missile defense system to intercept the remaining missiles after the first strike. The number of Chinese intercontinental nuclear missiles has now increased to a certain order of magnitude, and if the United States wants to launch another preemptive nuclear strike against China, China's nuclear counterattack will not be underestimated.

Generally, our common DF-41 intercontinental missiles are carried by missile launchers and can carry out "all-area maneuver", and they will be stationed in the base of the rocket force in normal times, and after receiving the order, they will maneuver to the preset launch position according to the pre-planned plan for launch. Its advantage is that it can maneuver in the wild unpredictably, so that enemies cannot easily catch its tracks; However, due to the high-resolution satellite detection system now deployed densely, when the missile launcher is still maneuvering in the field, the enemy can grasp its whereabouts in real time, and then use hypersonic missiles to attack it.

Compared with the DF-41 launched by mobile in the field, the strategic nuclear missiles hidden in the mountains and valleys of the Qinling Mountains and the Taihang Mountain Range are thousands of kilometers long in the "underground nuclear weapons Great Wall", which can maneuver in the tunnel, avoiding the missile launch vehicle from being attacked by the enemy when maneuvering in the field. When serving as a combat readiness and alert mission, the missile can first enter the relevant parameters of the target to be hit, and immediately drive out of the hole after receiving the order from the superior, and launch the missile after erection, which greatly improves the safety and reaction speed. Intercontinental or long-range missiles such as the DF-41, DF-31AG, DF-31A, DF-26, and DF-27 can be deployed at the nuclear base of the Great Wall underground for 24-hour vigilance.

China displays the DF-2019 ICBM during a military parade in Beijing's Tiananmen Square on October 10, 1. (Getty)

Western media have reported that more than 400 suspected missile silos are under construction Chinese mainland in Yumen in Gansu, Hami in Xinjiang, Jilantai in Inner Mongolia and Ordos, and from recent satellite images, these missile silos seem to have been completed one after another, and have proved that they are not previously speculated wind power bases; As to whether deployment has already begun, there has been no further report. Although the ICBM silos deployed underground are vulnerable to enemy attacks because of their obvious targets, the advantage is that the missiles deployed in the silos can counterattack in a very short time after receiving the order.

Although the large number of underground ICBM silos appears to be fixed targets, as long as the deployment of a large number of dispersed missiles is accompanied by underground moving/loading facilities, it is difficult for the enemy to identify that those silos are actually loaded with missiles. For example, Russia's RS-24 (Yars) intercontinental missile is deployed in fixed silos with only 14 sets of missiles, but there are nearly <> missile silos! Reality is also part of nuclear deterrence. The deployment of a large number of missile silos will be a leap in China's nuclear strike force.

"If the enemy moves, I will move first"

In order to cope with the possible preemptive strike by the United States, China is actively deploying an air and space early warning system, and when it detects that the enemy's missiles are coming, it may be regarded as a nuclear bomb attack on China, and will carry out a comprehensive nuclear counterattack against the enemy in the shortest possible time.

This article was originally published in Asia Weekly, Issue 2023, 18, and is reprinted with permission.

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