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Chinese Media Calls For Carrier Killing Missile, Other Weapons

China not only must develop an anti-ship ballistic missile but it should develop a range of carrier killing weapons to protect the country’s strategic interests, says an editorial in China’s Global Times. The Naval War College’s Andrew Erickson writes that while the Global Times is not an official government mouthpiece, it is sponsored by and produced by the People’s Daily, which is the official community party paper.

The editorial says:

“For quite some time the intelligence agencies in the US and other Western countries have conjectured over China’s anti-ship missile capacity. China ought to convince the international community of its reliable carrier-killing capacity as soon as possible to end the speculation.

Since US aircraft carrier battle groups in the Pacific constitute deterrence against China’s strategic interests, China has to possess the capacity to counterbalance. Such capacity could inhibit US thoughts of keeping China in check through aircraft carriers, and therefore greatly reduce the possibility of confrontation between the People’s Liberation Army and US military forces in the Western Pacific.

While developing its anti-ship missile capacity, China should also let Westerners know under what circumstances will such weaponry be used.

China should let the world be well aware that no foreign aircraft carrier is allowed to do whatever it wants to do in China’s waters. China will never abuse its anti-ship missile capacity and launch strikes against foreign carriers without a justified reason.”

The editorial says China has no intention of changing the balance of power in the Western Pacific (which of course sounds like an official line), and is only trying to “enhance its national defensive strategy.” The editorial’s authors recognize that China is venturing into uncharted territory with a weapon classified as a “strategic deterrence,” and should carefully explore how to present its deterrence.”

That last bit most likely refers to what appropriate tests China should carry out with the ASBM, if they get the thing to work. I’m guessing the question is more of where, in what part of the Western Pacific, to demonstrate it; a touchy issue in and of itself.

Chinese strategists and policymakers must also carefully think through the implications of using the “carrier killer” in anything short of a major theater war. We are, after all, talking about a weapon that in a single strike could potentially kill more Americans than were killed in the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor or the 9-11 terrorist attacks. Chinese strategists are likely mindful of the American public’s reaction and America’s subsequent response to both those attacks.

-- Greg Grant

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