A week after an article in the Chinese government publication Huanqiu (环球网 or Global Network) crowed about China’s planned H-18 stealth fighter-bomber having the capability to launch a nuclear attack against the U.S. unincorporated territory of Guam in the western Pacific, a new report says that the United States is worried about precisely such a scenario.
The Chinese Hongzha-6 medium-range bomber is the Chinese copy of the Russian Tupolev Tu-16.
Iran’s Press TV reports, Nov. 20, 2013, that the United States is gravely concerned about China’s new long-range nuclear bombers that can target previously unreachable US military bases in the Pacific, according to a new report from the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission.
The US-China Economic and Security Review Commission warns in its annual report that China is “rapidly expanding and diversifying” its ability to strike US bases, ships and aircraft throughout the Pacific, even places like Guam that were previously out of reach, the Foreign Policy magazine reported on Wednesday.
The House Armed Services Committee is set to discuss China’s Hongzha-6K bomber at a hearing on Wednesday when members of the commission will testify about their report.
The US military has made Guam a key strategic military hub in the western Pacific as part of Washington’s new “pivot” strategy of realigning American forces toward Asia.
The report warned that China has become increasingly aggressive in the way it handles issues with US allies such as the Philippines and Japan.
“Although sovereignty disputes in the East and South China Seas are not new, China’s growing diplomatic, economic, and military clout is improving China’s ability to assert its interests,” according to the report.
“It is increasingly clear that China does not intend to resolve the disputes through multilateral negotiations or the application of international laws and adjudicative processes but instead will use its growing power in support of coercive tactics that pressure its neighbors to concede to China’s claims,” it added.
China’s new drone, which resembles the MQ-9 Reaper, can be armed with Hellfire missiles, bombs and other weapons.
The commission also warned about the growth of the Chinese navy.
“By 2020, barring a US naval renaissance, it is possible that China will become the world’s leading military shipbuilder in terms of the numbers of submarines, surface combatants and other naval surface vessels produced per year,” said the report, citing Chinese military experts Andrew Erickson and Gabe Collins.
This is while the United States has planned to conduct more joint military exercises in western Pacific and encircle China with a chain of small air bases and military ports.
China is considering the Pentagon’s focus on the “pivot” to the Asia-Pacific as a strategy to counter China’s increasing global influence.
Beijing says American militarism in the region could endanger peace, urging Washington to abstain from flexing its muscles.
Click here for the House Armed Services Committee hearing of November 20, 2013, on the 2010 Report to Congress of the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission (ESRC).
The following are excerpts from the testimony of William A. Reinsch, the chair of the U.S.-China ESRC:
Under its new political leadership, China’s actions in the East and South China Seas continued to increase tensions in the region. It is becoming clear China does not intend to resolve its maritime disputes through multilateral negotiations or the application of international laws and adjudicative processes but prefers to use its growing power in support of coercive tactics that pressure its neighbors to concede China’s claims. […]
Meanwhile, China continued to develop and field advanced military platforms and weapon systems. China’s comprehensive military modernization is altering the balance of power in the Asia Pacific, challenging decades of U.S. military preeminence in the region.
China in 2013 expanded and diversified its arsenal of weapon systems capable of placing U.S. ships, aircraft, and bases in the Western Pacific at risk. The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) also continued to pursue cyber, electronic warfare, and counterspace capabilities that will enable Beijing to degrade or disrupt the command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance that are essential to U.S. military power projection on behalf of its interests in the region. As these capabilities mature, the costs and risks to the United States of intervention in a potential regional conflict involving China will increase.
Furthermore, the PLA enhanced its regional power projection capabilities, improving Beijing’s ability to use force against Taiwan, Japan, and rival claimants in the South China Sea. This could increase China’s willingness to respond militarily to a perceived provocation or to consider preemptive attacks in a crisis involving Taiwan or China’s maritime sovereignty claims. Many of these scenarios could require the U.S. military to protect U.S. regional allies and partners as well as to maintain open and secure access to the air and maritime commons in the Western Pacific.
Most Asian countries welcomed the U.S. rebalance to Asia when it was announced by the Obama Administration in 2011. However, there is growing concern among U.S. allies and partners that the Department of Defense will be unable to follow through on its commitment to the rebalance due to declining defense budgets and continuing security challenges elsewhere.
- “China says its anti-ship ballistic missile can sink U.S. aircraft carriers ,” Nov. 6, 2013.
- “China’s state media boast of Chinese nuclear subs attacking U.S. cities,” Nov. 3, 2013.
- “China deploys offensive weapons in space which can destroy U.S. military satellites,” Oct. 17, 2013.
- “Why is the U.S. helping China militarize space?,” Oct. 30, 2013.
- “China’s irredentist nationalism and the six wars to come,” Sept. 23, 2013.
Dr. C is the Editor of Consortium of Defense Analysts.