China recently tested a new, advanced type of guided missile in the sea near the Korean peninsula, the Chinese defense ministry said Tuesday cited by the Times of India, just as South Korea concluded its presidential elections amid rising regional tensions. The test in the Bohai Sea was conducted to “raise the operational capability of the armed forces and effectively respond to threats to national security,” the ministry said in a brief statement. The statement did not say when the launch took place, only that it happened “recently”, nor did it give any details about the missile nor the type of platform from which it was launched.
The test came as China, the United States and the Koreas are locked in a diplomatic spat over Pyongyang’s missile launches and potential new nuclear tests. To deter any future launches, the US military recently deployed an anti-missile defesce system in South Korea to deter the North, which China sees as a threat to the regional security balance and its own ballistic missile capabilities. As reported previously, Washington and Seoul agreed to the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) battery deployment in July in the wake of North Korean missile tests, the installation of which prompted vigorous complaints by local South Koreans.
Last week, US Forces Korea said THAAD was now operational, with the ability to intercept North Korean missiles, prompting Beijing to demand the immediate suspension of the system’s deployment. A US defense official said, however, that the system had only “reached initial intercept capability”. This initial capability will be augmented later this year as additional hardware and components arrive to complete the system, officials said.
In any case, China’s rising displeasure at the growing military ties between South Korea and the US manifested itself in the recent missile launches, because as China’s Global Times stated all too clearly in an article overnight, “China’s latest missile test shows country can respond to aircraft carriers, THAAD.” In other words, in addition to North Korea jawboning and threatening to blow up any strategic US asset in vicinity, as the NK ambassador told Sky News yesterday, now there’s China too.
In an oped by Glbal Times’ Deng Ziaoci, the author writes that China’s successful test of a new type of guided missile in the Bohai Sea “killed two birds with one stone, experts told the Global Times, as the launch shows China can attack both aircraft carriers and the US Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile defense system deployed in South Korea.”
“To judge from the missile remains disclosed by media, it was a DF-26 that was tested recently, also known as the ‘aircraft carrier killer’ missile,” Song Zhongping, a military expert who used to serve in the PLA Rocket Force, told the Global Times. “Considering the type of missile and the test location it is evident that we conducted a firing experiment targeting aircraft carriers, and the warhead possibly featured an electromagnetic pulse that could destroy a carrier’s command system, as well as the THAAD system,” Song noted.
When asked if the test’s location in the Bohai Sea, close to the Korean Peninsula, could show that the test was specifically aimed at Seoul’s THAAD deployment, Song said that this is unlikely as Bohai is China’s usual weapons testing ground, unlike the South and East China Seas where experiments could be difficult as the waters contain various nations’ Exclusive Economic Zones and international waters.
A statement from the Information Bureau of China’s Ministry of National Defense on Tuesday confirmed that Chinese rocket forces tested a new type of missile in the Bohai Sea. The statement said the test was conducted in accordance with the annual training plan to “raise the operational capability of the armed forces and effectively respond to threats to national security,” the statement said.
Translation: China just issued a stark warning to both the US and South Korea with one missile launch: bring your aircraft carriers too close, or launch the THAAD, and Beijing is ready.