China deploys anti-ship missile off Taiwan

(FT) China has deployed near Taiwan a powerful missile designed to take out US aircraft carriers as Beijing strengthens its ability to prevent US forces from aiding Taiwan during potential conflict.

Chinese DF-21D anti-ship ballistic missile

The deployment of the DF-21D anti-ship ballistic missile comes as China’s army develops greater long-range and offensive capabilities. Those advances pose a challenge to US forces as Washington looks to build up its military presence in east Asia to balance out China’s rising might.

The DF-21D missile is a particular worry for Taiwan as it relies on US forces to back it up against threats from the mainland, which has not renounced the use of force to take the island it regards as part of its territory.

The missile limits the US’s ability to send aircraft carriers into the strait unchallenged to support Taipei, as it did in 1996 when China conducted missile tests in the strait during the run-up to the island’s first democratic election. Taiwan itself has no aircraft carriers.

News of the missile’s deployment came in written testimony to the head of intelligence for the Pentagon, Lieutenant General Michael Flynn, delivered to a Senate committee on Thursday.

Chinese and US military sources have been saying since late 2010 that China has been planning to deploy the missile, but the testimony marks the first time a concrete deployment has been revealed in connection with a particular location. US military officials have said previously that the US lacks a tested way to defend its aircraft carriers against the missile.

That increases the pressure on Taiwan to strengthen its own ability to deter threats from the mainland and illustrates how, despite a reduction in tensions engineered by Taiwan’s president, China’s military continues to prepare for the possibility of conflict. --> MORE


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