China’s reaction to US Navy operation: We have missiles
CNN: China claims to have deployed missiles “capable of targeting medium and large ships” days after the latest US Navy “freedom of navigation” operation near contested islands in the South China Sea, state media announced.
The deployment of the DF-26 ballistic missiles in China’s remote northwest plateau, originally announced Tuesday on China Central Television, follows a mission from the US guided-missile destroyer USS McCampbell, which steamed close to the Paracel Islands, the previous day.
Capable of hitting targets 3,400 miles (5,471 kilometers) away with nuclear or conventional warheads, the DF-26 was dubbed the “Guam killer” by analysts at the time because it would allow China to bring unprecedented firepower to the US island territory — home to Andersen Air Force Base and other key US military installations.
The 1.3 million-square-mile South China Sea has seen increasing tension in recent years, with China aggressively asserting its stake amid conflicting claims from several Southeast Asian nations. “McCampbell sailed within 12 nautical miles of the Paracel Islands to challenge excessive maritime claims and preserve access to the waterways as governed by international law,” US Pacific Fleet spokesperson Lt. j.g. Rachel McMarr said in a statement. China accused the US of trespassing into its territorial waters. “The US action violated the Chinese laws and international laws, infringed China’s sovereignty, damaged regional peace, security, and order,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang said on Monday. “China will take necessary actions to protect state sovereignty.” Citing an anonymous expert, the Global Times said the DF-26 missile mobilization “is a good reminder that China is capable of safeguarding its territory.”
Beijing has built fortifications on contested islands, landed long-range bombers and last year President Xi Jinping, who claims the area has been Chinese territory since “ancient times,” oversaw China’s largest-ever naval parade there.
The DF-26 missile system originally entered active service in the People’s Liberation Army Rocket Forces last April. It was unveiled during a military parade in 2015 in Beijing in 2015.
“Foremost among China’s military assets capable of reaching Guam, the DF-26 IRBM represents the culmination of decades of advancements to China’s conventional ballistic missile forces,” a 2016 report from the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission said.