The Buzz

China May Have Tested a Ballistic Missile That Could Target Taiwan, Report States

China appears to have decided to step up its intimidation of Taiwan in recent years. One example of this is Beijing’s frequent bomber flights over the island. An analysis that appeared in War on the Rocks in September of last year noted, “After conducting two strategic bomber flights around Taiwan in late 2016, Beijing in the last two months has significantly stepped up its operational tempo with at least another five flights circumnavigating the island.” These flights have continued since that article was published, with numerous ones in December and November. More recently, China unilaterally opened new civilian aviation routes over the Taiwan Strait in violation of a prior bilateral agreement between Taipei and Beijing.

The stepped up intimidation of Taiwan may have to do with Tsai Ing-wen’s election as president in 2016. Tsai is a member of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), which Beijing believes is pro-independence for Taiwan. China’s renewed pressure could also be attributable to Xi Jinping’s growing power and inclination to pursue a more muscular foreign policy. This has resulted in Taiwan bolstering its own defenses. According to recent media reports, Taipei plans to increase military spending by 20 percent by 2025.

The DF-16 is not the only (relatively) new missile that the United States and its allies must worry about. As my former colleague at The Diplomat, Ankit Panda, first reported last month, China recently tested a new ballistic missile, the DF-17, that has a hypersonic glide vehicle (HGV). In his report, Ankit noted that “parts of the U.S. intelligence community assess that the DF-17 is heavily based on the PLARF’s DF-16B short-range ballistic missile, which is already deployed.”

Zachary Keck (@ZacharyKeck) is a former managing editor of The National Interest.

Image: Reuters