China has deployed its most advanced hypersonic missile to its coastal areas near Taiwan to ‘prepare for a possible invasion’ of the island, a report has revealed.
Beijing’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has been stepping up militarisation in the regions of Fujian and Zhejiang by placing its top-secret DF-17 missile in the area, according to South China Morning Post, citing an anonymous military source.
A Chinese state-run newspaper has branded the report as ‘merely speculation’. But it immediately asserted that Beijing’s DF-17 was ‘impossible to be intercepted’ and could ‘effectively deter Taiwan secessionists’.
China has deployed its most advanced hypersonic missile to its southeast borders near Taiwan to ‘prepare for a possible invasion’ of the island, a report has revealed. FILE: Military vehicles carrying the DF-17 hypersonic missiles roll past the Tiananmen Square on October 1, 2019
The news comes as the Chinese military has been boasting about its combat capabilities and ramping live-fire drills amid rising tensions between China and self-ruled Taiwan. Soldiers of the People’s Liberation Army march during a parade to celebrate the 70th Anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949 at Tiananmen Square on October 1, 2019
The news comes as the Chinese military has boasted about its combat capabilities and conducted live-fire drills amid rising tensions between China and self-ruled Taiwan, which Beijing considers as its own.
Chinese President Xi Jinping urged his marine soldiers to focus on war preparedness while remaining highly vigilant during a visit to a military base in southern Chinese Guangdong last week.
Beijing’s alleged military manoeuvre was revealed by South China Morning Post, a Hong Kong-based publication, on Sunday.
An unidentified insider told the news outlet that the perceived preparation for war included the deployment of the DF-17.
The DF-17, a medium-range ballistic missile that delivers a hypersonic glide vehicle, was officially unveiled during China’s National Day military parade on October 1, 2019.
The weapon has a maximum range of 2,500 kilometres (1,550 miles) and is capable of achieving speeds of up to 7,680 miles per hour (12,360 kph) – or 10 times the speed of sound – while carrying a nuclear warhead, according to previous reports.
It has been billed as ‘a death sentence’ to aircraft carriers within its range.
The DF-17 (pictured in file photo on October 1, 2019), with a maximum range of 2,500 kilometres (1,550 miles), will gradually replace the older DF-11 and DF-15 missiles, which have shorter ranges and less accuracy, the report said, citing an anonymous military source
President Xi Jinping (pictured in file photo on September 8 in Beijing) has urged his marine soldiers to focus on getting ready for war during a visit to a military base in southern China
The marine corps and rocket force bases in eastern and southern China have also continuously expanded in recent years and are now fully equipped, said military observer Andrei Chang.
He told South China Morning Post that the size of some missile bases in the Eastern and Southern theatre commands of China had ‘doubled’ in recent years, showing the PLA’s ambition in ‘stepping up preparations for a war targeting Taiwan’.
The news sparked fears in Taiwan as local media suggested that the DF-17 could enable the PLA to directly attack the island’s air force bases.
Reports also noted that Beijing had been deploying J-20 stealth fighter jets and Marine Corps units to its military base in Guangdong as preparation of a possible invasion.
The Global Times, a Chinese nationalistic tabloid and mouthpiece of the Communist Party, labelled South China Morning Post’s report as ‘merely speculation’.
But it declared that the DF-17 could ‘effectively deter Taiwan secessionists, control the Taiwan Straits and keep foreign interventions away’, citing a military expert.
The Beijing-based expert called Wei Dongxu challenged the report’s authenticity by claiming that information about the DF-17 ‘is not available to the general public’.
Political tensions between China and Taiwan have reached a new high in recent months. The Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen (pictured centre) is seen cheering with audience during National Day celebrations in front of the Presidential Building in Taipei, Taiwan on October 10
Tensions between China and self-ruled Taiwan, which Beijing considers as its own, have reached a new high in recent months. Helicopters fly over President Office with Taiwan National flag during the National Day celebrations in Taipei, Taiwan on October 10
Political tensions between China and Taiwan have reached a new high in recent months after Beijing has stepped up pressure against the self-ruled island by over sending attack and surveillance aircraft into its airspace and ships near its waters.
During a visit to the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy Marine Corps last week, President Xi called for war preparedness while giving a speech to his navy troops.
He urged the soldiers to ‘speed up improving [their combat capabilities]’ in order to become a ‘multi-functional, rapid response, all-weather and region’ elite force.
‘Focus all [your] minds and energy on preparing for war and maintain a level of high alert,’ Xi, who is also chairman of China’s Central Military Commission, is quoted saying.
Last week, Chinese state media released a video of a military exercise simulating an island invasion featuring missiles and amphibious landings.
Washington’s increased outreach to Taiwan under President Donald Trump has become yet another flashpoint with Beijing, as the US and China clash over a range of trade and security issues, as well as the coronavirus pandemic.