The United States is actively supporting its Asian allies with their territorial claims over the disputed South China Sea. But what the government does not realize is that China has risen to be a major nuclear power, an expert said. The more active the U.S. participate in the conflict over the contested region, the more it risks a nuclear confrontation.
The U.S. is now regularly patrolling the South China Sea with its warships sailing within 12 nautical miles from the vast territory claimed by China. President Barack Obama had also gifted the Philippines with warships, warplanes and had increased its military aid to as much as $79 million.
“China is major nuclear power. When cornered, nuclear-armed states can threaten asymmetric escalation to deter an adversary from harming its key interests,” according to Zhang Baohui, Professor of Political Science and Director of Center for Asian pacific Studies at Mingnan University in Hong Kong.
“When a crisis situation escalates and starts to involve potential nuclear tensions, the US faces the stark choice of either backing down first or facing the prospect of fighting a nuclear-armed China,” Baohui wrote. He noted that China paraded a new generation of tactical missiles during the Sept 3 military parade. The communist country had recently acquired long-range cruise missiles that can carry tactical nuclear warheads. Just recently, it also released photos of JL-2 sea-based nuclear missile launching from the sea. Baohui is the author of China’s Assertive Nuclear Posture: State Security in an Anarchic International Order.
On Nov. 23, China test fired its new hypersonic nuclear attack vehicle, the Free Beacon reported. Last week’s testing of the DF-ZF was the sixth time that the hypersonic glider was tested since 2014.
According to people familiar with the matter, the test fire was tracked by U.S. intelligence agencies. The F-ZF reportedly flew at speeds between Mach 5 and Mach 10 or 3, 836 to 7, 680 miles per hour. This means the hypersonic nuclear guided vehicle is five times faster than the speed of sound.
According to Rick Fisher, a senior fellow at the International Assessment and Strategy center, the six tests conducted by China hint that the country is developing weapons similar to U.S. Prompt Global Strike. The analyst suggested for Pentagon to ramp up its own development of the strike vehicle in order to deploy it at any given instance that China does the same.