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China’s New Strategic Weapons Display at ‘70th Anniversary of PRC’ Commemorative Military Parade; By

Image Courtesy: South China Morning Post

Article No. 35/2019

On October 1st, China unveiled its new strategic weapons assets during its military parade of 70th anniversary of founding of the People’s Republic of China. President XI Jinping appeared from open-topped Limousine to inspect the military honour guards. China showcased its military superiority by displaying 580 pieces of military equipment. Out of which, 40% of equipment were displayed for the first time. During the airshow, over 160 aircraft flew overhead with various formations as well as the special ‘number 70’ formation of helicopters as they fly by. China displays full military might with huge anniversary parade. It is first time for China’s peacekeeping troops to partake in a parade as well as it is the first national day parade for the PLA Strategic Support Force and the PLA Joint Logistic Force to showcase.

What’s new?

The parade displayed the advanced supersonic drones, hypersonic glide vehicles, supersonic anti-ship missiles, ballistic missile systems, stealth fighter, numerous tanks and armoured fighting vehicles. In between the numerous soldiers and weaponry, the new military hardware such as DF-41, DF-7, Harbin Z-20, J-20, H-6N bomber, Wuzhen 8 hypersonic reconnaissance drone, G-11 Sharp Sword long-range stealth attack drone and ZTQ-15 light tanks have shined and projected China’s military superiority.

In Detail

DF- 41 is an Intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) is said to be the world’s longest-range missile that is ranging up to 9,300 miles. The missile is capable of carrying 10 nuclear warheads that could further manoeuvre independently. Thus, a single DF-41 can strike 10 targets simultaneously.  Remarkably, it surpasses the capability of SS-18 Satan ICBM of Russia.

DF-17 is displayed with its Hypersonic Glide Vehicle (HGV), is also an ICBM and which could deliver a warhead at hypersonic speed. Specifically, the weapon is harder for the radar defence systems to intercept because of its capability to fly low than the other traditional ICBMs of the world. Thus, making it unique to bypass and penetrate all known missile shields of US.

DF-100 is a hypersonic intermediate-range missile with range of 1,800 miles. is nicknamed as “carried killer” which is said to be used for targeting aircraft carriers and large ships.

JL-2 is the second-generation submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM), the weapon has a capability to deliver multiple nuclear warheads.

Chengdu J-20 is the fifth-generation stealth fighter. It is capable for tactical bombing missions or electronic warfare.

Harbin Z-20 is a medium-lift helicopter is capable to adapt to different terrains and weather. It is said to be adopted by all three forces. Previously, the development of the helicopter was confirmed in 2013.

H-6N, one of the new features of China’s H-6 long-range bomber series. It is capable of refueling jets in mid-air and can deliver China’s latest missiles. The new bomber unit operating under the PLA’s Central Theatre Command (CTC). Bomber’s range can be extended to 3,700 miles.

DF-31 AG is a nuclear-capable Intercontinental ballistic missile which is first unveiled in 2017 was sighted in the parade with newly designed off-road model that makes the launch sites harder to track. The missile has a range up to 7000 miles.

ZTQ- 15 is a main battle tank and it is a modified version of the Type 99. It boasts a 105mm gun capable of firing armour-piercing shells and guided missiles. It is designed to be smaller and lighter for overcoming sea obstacles and navigating coastal regions.

Wuzhen 8 is a supersonic reconnaissance drone that can range up to western pacific. It is capable to maintain Mach 3 speed at high altitude. The drone could spy and deliver aircraft carrier killer missiles such as DF-21 or DF-100. Due to its supersonic speed, it is near-invisible to radar and hardest target to hit even when it is detected.

G-11 Sharp Sword is an Unmanned combat air vehicle (UCAV), the long-range attack drone which is designed for stealth capable of delivering missiles and laser-guided bombs during conflict. Notably, the images of G-11 emerged in 2013 during its flight tests.

The interesting feature in the ground parade is two-man gyrocopter. It is used as a special forces. Notably, Hong Kong’s leader Carrie Lam attended the 70th anniversary where President Xi Jinping stated that the central government will maintain long-term prosperity and stability of Hong Kong and Macao. “Forging ahead, we must remain committed to the strategy of peaceful reunification, and ’One Country, Two Systems,” Xi said. Further, he added that “advance peaceful development of cross-strait relations, unite the whole country and continue to strive forward the complete unification of our country”.

“No force can stop the Chinese people and the Chinese nation forging ahead”

– President Xi Jinping at 70th anniversary of the founding of People’s Republic of China.

According to SIPRI database, China is the world’s second largest military spender. In fact, China spent $250 billion on its military in 2018. Since 2013, China is spending 1.9% of its GDP to the military every year. China has also transformed from being the largest importer of arms to largest exporter. The country shares 5.2% of global arms exports and stands fifth after USA, Russia, France and Germany. From 2014-2018, China’s arms export grew by 2.4% when compared to the previous five years.  At the same time, the state shares 4.2% of global arms imports and stands sixth as well. It is exporting more arms to more countries. Presently, China exports to 53 countries targeting Asian and African nations. Thus, China is expanding its exports to more countries than any other state in the world. Pakistan has remained Beijing’s top arms buyer since 1991. Whereas Bangladesh and Algeria stand second and third respectively (SIPRI,2019).

As per 2018 Global Nuclear Weapon Stockpiles, China being a nuclear power, has 290 nuclear warheads and is gradually diversifying the composition of its nuclear arsenal. China is also one of the largest producers of fissile materials in the world. Thus, with the advancement of its ICBM and BeiDou navigation, China attains its deterrence capability to the fullest.  Technically, the primary system of BeiDou-3 was completed in December 27 2018 to expand its global reach. It adds value to China’s arms exports. It will have a sufficient impact on its global reach. The technical advancement is also contributing to the global arms race where the missile accuracy can be improved by utilizing the coordinates of BeiDou. Therefore, by leading in weapons technology, China is gaining through arms export diplomacy in the Belt and Road countries.

At the end of his speech at the commemorative event marking the 70th anniversary of PRC, President Xi Jinping said:

“Looking at the world at large, we’re facing a period of major change never seen in a century. No matter what these changes bring, China will remain resolute and confident in its defense of its national sovereignty and security. And China’s sincerity and goodwill to safeguard world peace and promote common development will remain unchanged. We will continue to push ahead with the joint construction of the Belt and Road Initiative, and continue to advocate for the development of a community of shared future for mankind. And we will work tirelessly for a more prosperous and beautiful world.”

References:

  1. Chris Pleasance and Ariel Zilber. ‘No force can shake this great nation’: President Xi leads spectacular ceremony to mark 70 years of Communist rule in China and unveils top-secret hypersonic DF-17 missile for the first time. Mail Online, October 1, 2019, https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-7523145/Chinas-70-year-parade-economic-military-might.html

  2. Patrick Tucker. “New Drones, Weapons Get Spotlight in China’s Military Parade”. Defence One. October 1, 2019. https://www.defenseone.com/technology/2019/10/new-drones-weapons-get-spotlight-chinas-military-parade/160291/

  3. Malcolm Davis. “Analysis: Advanced new weaponry lets China steal a march on rivals and exposes US Navy in the Pacific”, The Telegraph, October 1, 2019. https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2019/10/01/analysis-chinas-military-parade-should-raise-alarm-us/

  4. Mu Xuequan. “Xi says no force can ever undermine China’s status”. October 1, 2019http://www.xinhuanet.com/english/2019-10/01/c_138438609.htm

  5. Steven Lee Myers. “Tanks, Missiles and No Pigeons: China to Celebrate 70th Birthday of the People’s Republic”. The New York Times. October 1, 2019. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/28/world/asia/china-national-day-70th-anniversary.html

  6. Evelyn Cheng. “China’s Xi: ‘No force can stop the Chinese people and the Chinese nation”. October 1, 2019. https://www.cnbc.com/2019/10/01/china-70th-anniversary-xi-says-no-force-can-stop-the-chinese-people.html

  7. “World military expenditure grows to $1.8 trillion in 2018”. SIPRI. April 29, 2018. https://www.sipri.org/media/press-release/2019/world-military-expenditure-grows-18-trillion-2018

  8. “Full text: 2019 New Year Speech by President Xi Jinping”. CGTN. December 31, 2019. https://america.cgtn.com/2018/12/31/full-text-2019-new-year-speech-by-president-xi-jinping

(The views expressed are the author’s own)

(Mr. Vithiyapathy Purushothaman, Ph.D. scholar, School of Humanities and Social Science, University of Science and Technology of China (USTC), Hefei, PRC, Former Research Officer, C3S; and Associate Member, C3S.)

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