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The South China Sea's Gathering Storm

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The South China Sea's Gathering Storm

Old 15th Oct 2021, 17:21
  #1141 (permalink)  
 
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Article + photos in The Times:-

China fortifies three military airbases facing Taiwan

China has expanded and upgraded three military airbases on its southeast coast, just across from the self-governed island of Taiwan, adding to concerns that Beijing is preparing to go to war to reclaim the island.

Satellite images by Planet Labs Inc, an American company, show Beijing has built aircraft hangars, potential munitions bunkers, extended runways and tarmac aprons, all of which would enhance the combat capabilities of the Chinese air force if it were to attack Taiwan.

The images, first published by The Drive, a US military and tech site, come at a time of tension in the Taiwan Strait. Chinese military aircraft flew a record 150 sorties close to the island’s airspace over five consecutive days in early October, including 56 on October 4 alone.

Beijing has long claimed Taiwan to be part of Chinese territory and vows to take it by force, if necessary, to achieve national unity.

“Reunification of the nation must be realised and it will definitely be realised,” President Xi declared last week. The Taiwan problem, as “a product of a weaker China”, is certain to be resolved with “the national revival”, Xi said.


He did not mention the use of force but said “reunification through a peaceful manner best suits the overall interest of the Chinese nation, including Taiwan compatriots”.

Across the strait, President Tsai of Taiwan said the island hoped for an easing of cross-strait relations and that her government would not act rashly.

“But there should be absolutely no illusions that the Taiwanese people will bow to pressure,” she said. “We will continue to bolster our national defence and demonstrate our determination to defend ourselves in order to ensure that nobody can force Taiwan to take the path China has laid out for us.”

The images by Planet Labs confirm earlier pictures from Google Earth that appeared to show construction of extended runways and taxiways as well as of adding more tarmac at the military airbases in Longtian and Huian in the southeast province of Fujian. The bases are 105 miles and 118 miles from Taiwan.The latest images also suggest that the Longtian base has added ammunition bunkers and fortified hangars, which can hide aircraft. The base also features additional administrative buildings and what appears to be a barracks, a sign of increased staffing.

In the Huian base, there are similar developments of additional ammunition bunkers, longer runways and more hangars.


The third base is in Zhangzhou, where satellite images show that China might be building a new surface-to-air missile defence site.

In August, China also unveiled a £340 million plan to build a civilian airport on reclaimed land in the Taiwan Strait, some 100 miles away from Taipei, Taiwan’s capital city.


State media say the airport, to be located in Pingtan off the southeast coastline, would be “Taiwan-oriented” with a focus to develop direct passenger flights to the island in future.

America, which accepts the “one China” policy but opposes forced unification, has a security pact with Taipei to supply it with sufficient hardware and technology to deter any mainland invasion, but observers have suggested that Beijing may launch a rapid war to seize the island before Washington and its allies can respond.

The US may also be losing its deterrence against China, as Beijing is rapidly modernising its military forces.

“Let’s put it frankly: the US has lost its strength to make ‘rock solid’ commitments to Taiwan,” read an editorial by the Global Times, a Chinese Communist party-run newspaper.

“The Taiwan Straits and the area near by are within the effective strike range of the [People’s Liberation Army], which is prepared and strong enough to resist outside military interference when the Chinese mainland is determined to solve the Taiwan question.

“The US sending naval and air forces to defend Taiwan would be a death blow to US soldiers,” it continued, adding that China’s nuclear and missile capabilities would deter the US from using its nuclear weapons.

“In short, the US is no longer the country that can exercise military blackmail against China,” the party newspaper concluded.


China is also cultivating closer military and diplomatic ties with Russia.

The countries held joint naval drills in the Sea of Japan today and practised how to operate together and destroy floating enemy mines with artillery fire, the Russian defence ministry said in a statement.

The naval co-operation drills, which are running from October 14-17, involve warships and support vessels from Russia’s Pacific Fleet, including minesweepers and a submarine. Two Chinese destroyers, a submarine and two corvettes were among the vessels Beijing had sent to take part in the drills.


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Old 18th Oct 2021, 16:51
  #1142 (permalink)  
 
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In The Times.
China catches US off guard by testing nuclear-capable hypersonic missile

China has shown “astounding progress” in weapons technology by testing a nuclear-capable hypersonic missile that circled the Earth, catching US intelligence by surprise.

The Chinese military launched a rocket carrying a hypersonic glide vehicle in August that flew through low-orbit space before cruising towards its target, which it missed by about 20 miles, according to the Financial Times.

Hypersonic weapons are difficult to defend against because they fly at lower altitudes and can reach 3,850mph, five times the speed of sound.

Several nations, including the US, China and Russia, are known to be developing the technology in an intensified and expensive arms race. Last month North Korea said it had tested a hypersonic missile. Beijing’s hypersonic glide vehicle was said to have been carried by a Long March rocket.

Citing sources briefed on the intelligence, the newspaper said the test “showed that China had made astounding progress on hypersonic weapons and was far more advanced than US officials realised”.

An unnamed official said: “We have no idea how they did this.”

John Kirby, a Pentagon spokesman, said he would not comment on specifics but added: “We have made clear our concerns about the military capabilities China continues to pursue.”

China claimed today that it had been conducting “a routine spacecraft experiment to test the technology to reuse spacecraft” and suggested that the technology was not intended for military purposes.

Zhao Lijian, a spokesman for the Chinese foreign ministry, said that it was conducting research to reduce the costs of space missions and provide a convenient and affordable way of commuting for humankind to peacefully use space, adding that many countries had conducted similar tests.


He said: “China will work together with all nations in the world to peacefully use space to benefit mankind.”

Zhao added that before the spacecraft returned to Earth its auxiliary equipment would detach and burn in the atmosphere with any debris falling into the East China Sea.

Hu Xijin, editor-in-chief of the Global Times, a party-run newspaper, wrote: “As China’s economic and technological powers are rising, it’s inevitable that we are closing the gaps with the US in the military technology area and that we may even have overtaken the US in some single items.

“China doesn’t need to engage in an ‘arms race’ with the US. Our normal pace to develop our military powers is enough to erode the advantages the US is so keen to keep against China.


“It’s certain that China will enhance the strength of its nuclear deterrence to ensure that the US will harbour no thought to blackmail China with its nuclear powers at crucial moments.”

Song Zhongping, a Chinese military expert, told theGlobal Times that it was a “common ploy” by the US to create rumours and hype over the Chinese threat in order to exert pressure on Congress for more money to develop new weapons.

Song affirmed that China had been developing hypersonic weapons but said it was necessary to frustrate the US policy of containment against China.

“The US is using strategic weapons such as nuclear-powered aircraft carriers to threaten China, so China needs more powerful weapons as a countermeasure,” he added.
Red faces all-round in Washington DC?



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Old 19th Oct 2021, 09:14
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https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20211019_05/

Combined Chinese Russian fleet sails between Japanese main islands of Honshu and Hokkaido. (Somewhat like traversing the Irish Sea?)
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Old 19th Oct 2021, 10:12
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More comparable to the Kuznetsov transiting the English Channel.

compare and contract the UK reaction on that occasion, and the Japanese on this, compared to that of Russia when a UK frigate transited past Crimea and China when a UK, USA or other allied frigate approaches one of their illegally claimed reefs or enters the Taiwan Strait.
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Old 19th Oct 2021, 18:06
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Originally Posted by Lyneham Lad View Post

Do you bother to read what you cut and paste?
Do you buy the hyperbole the Chinese are spouting?
If not, why are you replicating their noise here? For example, this bit of overblown noise.
“The US is using strategic weapons such as nuclear-powered aircraft carriers to threaten China, so China needs more powerful weapons as a countermeasure,” he added.
Aircraft carriers are ships; nuclear propulsion has been powering ships for over sixty years.
Hyperbole much?
On the technical side: made a hypersonic missile?
Good for you, China. The arms race has been going on for a long time.
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Old 19th Oct 2021, 20:34
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Hmmm, dunno.
What exactly do you do with a missile that has a CEP of 20 miles when current ICBMs are 100Yards?
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Old 19th Oct 2021, 21:30
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Originally Posted by henra View Post
Hmmm, dunno.
What exactly do you do with a missile that has a CEP of 20 miles when current ICBMs are 100Yards?
Launch it, and lots more.

From what I learned as S Met. O with the old UKWMO down various holes in the ground, [Fiskerton, Horsham and some I cannot remember] if the yield is big enough, accuracy is rather academic, especially as nobody is going to do a pre-emptive strike with just the one.

Anybody fancy their chances 20 miles from a big one?
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Old 19th Oct 2021, 22:08
  #1148 (permalink)  
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Inverse square law, at 20 miles the effect is low. A 200kt warhead at 100m is more effective than 5Mt at a couple of miles.

ICBMs are hypersonic, the question is do suborbital air breathing missiles provide any advantage.

If you don’t intend to intercept MIRV warheads (and the USA don’t, their interceptors are for the odd rogue launch) then launch detection is enough to preserve a response to first strike; and the reported missile needs an IRBM/ICBM launcher to reach SCRAM engine ignition.

The question to ask is whether this weapon opens a defence hole which needs closing, and I don’t think it does.

Just like the Russian submarine nukes being boasted of by Putin, where’s the added value? MAD is MAD.
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Old 19th Oct 2021, 23:20
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Originally Posted by langleybaston View Post
Launch it, and lots more.

From what I learned as S Met. O with the old UKWMO down various holes in the ground, [Fiskerton, Horsham and some I cannot remember] if the yield is big enough, accuracy is rather academic, especially as nobody is going to do a pre-emptive strike with just the one.

Anybody fancy their chances 20 miles from a big one?
clearly you either didn’t learn very much, or much more likely, the world has moved on greatly from what you learnt about 50 years ago.

must say I hadn’t realised you were a S Met O, you should mention it more often
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Old 19th Oct 2021, 23:56
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Originally Posted by langleybaston View Post
Anybody fancy their chances 20 miles from a big one?
Quite good, actually,
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Old 20th Oct 2021, 01:12
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It's difficult to cut through the hype and hysteria.
What exactly did they test?
Let's pick it apart.
China launched a FOBS - not a major technical achievement - they've been around since the 1960s.
The bombardment part of the system appears to have been some kind of hypersonic glide vehicle - i.e. able to extend significantly downrange and manoeuvre cross-range once in the atmosphere, rather than the limited manoeuverability of current MIRVs.
But manoeuvre to what extent?
My sense is they may have launched something, it re-entered, might have made a turn or two (I saw a reference to dog-legs recently) then it missed it's target by - 20 miles.
Hell, it might have made one turn and disintegrated under airload.
For anything other than a special weapon payload - it's going to be pretty shite - not much point in kinetic effects if it's so off course.
Hypersonics is hard.
The US is only just getting to the point where it can make these platforms work.
I simply don't believe the Chinese have made some short of exponential improvement in capability.
Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof.
Show me the range data and a clear indication of something extensively modifying it's flightpath and then hitting with a really good CEP and I'll be worried...
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Old 20th Oct 2021, 04:49
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Originally Posted by ORAC View Post
More comparable to the Kuznetsov transiting the English Channel.

compare and contract the UK reaction on that occasion, and the Japanese on this, compared to that of Russia when a UK frigate transited past Crimea and China when a UK, USA or other allied frigate approaches one of their illegally claimed reefs or enters the Taiwan Strait.
I think this one is more personal than transiting the Channel, which after all goes between two unrelated nations. There is little reason for ships to use the Tsugaru Strait even if it is legal under international law. China was wanting to cut across or through a single nation, to show Japan (the US has Misawa base nearby) how it feels to the CCP (not of course to the people of Taiwan though) when foreign warships transit the Taiwan Strait. By holding hands with Russia as she performed this unprecedented move, she was also spreading the responsibility.
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Old 20th Oct 2021, 13:03
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Originally Posted by jolihokistix View Post
By holding hands with Russia as she performed this unprecedented move, she was also spreading the responsibility.
It also would suggest that China recognises the legitimacy of other nations transiting the South China sea and the concept of innocent passage regardless of what it actually claims.

If they made a point of asking for permission and waiting for receipt of a positive response then that would make an interesting development.
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Old 21st Oct 2021, 03:32
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Yes, true. China must still believe in gunboat diplomacy.
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Old 22nd Oct 2021, 05:29
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The gauntlet laid down: The US will defend Taiwan says Biden

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-59005300
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Old 22nd Oct 2021, 08:27
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Someone needs to sort this out:-

BBC - President Joe Biden said the US would defend Taiwan if China attacked, in an apparent departure from a long-held US foreign policy position.


But a White House spokesman later told some US media outlets that his remarks did not signify a change in policy. The US has a law which requires it to help Taiwan defend itself. But it has been deliberately vague about what it would actually do if China were to attack Taiwan, in what is known as "strategic ambiguity". China has yet to respond to Mr Biden's comments.

What did Biden and the White House say?

At a CNN town hall event, a participant referred to recent reports that China had tested a hypersonic missile. He asked Mr Biden if he could "vow to protect Taiwan", and what he would do to keep up with China's military development. Mr Biden responded: "Yes and yes." He added there was no need to "worry about whether they're going to be more powerful", because "China, Russia and the rest of the world knows we're the most powerful military in the history of the world". He was then queried a second time by CNN anchor Anderson Cooper if the US would come to Taiwan's defence in the event of an attack by China. Mr Biden replied: "Yes, we have a commitment to do that."

A White House spokesperson later appeared to walk back Mr Biden's comments, telling US media outlets that the US was "not announcing any change in our policy and there is no change in our policy".
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Old 22nd Oct 2021, 18:37
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In The Times this evening - lengthy article with explanatory diagrams etc.

Hypersonic warfare: how China is edging ahead in the race for the fastest missile


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Old 22nd Oct 2021, 22:34
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Originally Posted by Asturias56 View Post
Someone needs to sort this out:-
BBC - President Joe Biden said the US would defend Taiwan if China attacked, in an apparent departure from a long-held US foreign policy position.

But a White House spokesman later told some US media outlets that his remarks did not signify a change in policy.
The US has a law which requires it to help Taiwan defend itself.
But it has been deliberately vague about what it would actually do if China were to attack Taiwan, in what is known as "strategic ambiguity".
China has yet to respond to Mr Biden's comments.

What did Biden and the White House say?

He was then queried a second time by CNN anchor Anderson Cooper if the US would come to Taiwan's defence in the event of an attack by China. Mr Biden replied: "Yes, we have a commitment to do that."
Yeah. And he's right to say nothing more than that. Don't get into details, leave it vague.
A White House spokesperson later appeared to walk back Mr Biden's comments, telling US media outlets that the US was "not announcing any change in our policy and there is no change in our policy".
(1) Typical political double speak
(2) Joe B is pretty good at saying stuff that may be off script. (must drive his handlers mad)
(3) The Chinese will hear what they want to hear, and disregard the rest.

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Old 23rd Oct 2021, 08:03
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I believe if/when the Chinese decide to invade, there’s no stopping them short of using of buckets of sunshine which no one will.


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Old 23rd Oct 2021, 10:54
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Originally Posted by West Coast View Post
I believe if/when the Chinese decide to invade, there’s no stopping them short of using of buckets of sunshine which no one will.
Maybe a complete and unlimited Economic Embargo by the whole Western World? Would lead to a total Implosion of China within less than 5 Years.
But while I consider a war theoretically possible I can't fathom the Ultimate Measure of an all- out Economic Embargo (I feel this extreme measure would only be taken as a next step after instant sunshine).
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