The Buzz

China and Russia Hate America's Missile Defense Systems for a Very Simple Reason

China and Russia are both criticizing U.S. efforts to defend itself against an intercontinental ballistic missile strike.

The U.S. military conducted an ICBM intercept test Tuesday, successfully eliminating a mock ICBM fired from the Reagan Test Site on Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands in the Pacific with an interceptor launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. Russia and China, two U.S. rivals, are now criticizing U.S. defense moves.

China’s People’s Daily, a state-run media outlet, claimed Thursday that the U.S. has “opened a Pandora’s box,” asserting the U.S. is changing nuclear deterrence postures. “What the US has done will indeed start a new arms race,” the commentary explained.

“China worries about the impact the US missile defence system would have on China’s counter strike capability,” Zhao Tong, a research fellow in the nuclear policy program at the Carnegie-Tsinghua Centre for Global Policy in Beijing. “It’s China’s biggest concern. To deal with that, China would develop new ground-based, sea-based or multi-head missiles.”

The reality is the arms race was already underway, as China has been developing improved missile systems. China has been actively developing hypersonic glide vehicle to evade defenses, enhanced maneuverable reentry vehicles, and improved ICBMs. The People’s Liberation Army Rocket Force has been diversifying its arsenal, and in January, the military tested a DF-5C long-range missile carrying ten warheads. As China relies heavily on projectile-based defense, an improved U.S. missile shield is disconcerting.

In addition to the commentary in the state-run People’s Daily, the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs again complained about the deployment of a U.S. Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system in South Korea.

“The US global missile defense system is ultimately targeted at the nuclear deterrent capability of China and Russia,” the Global Times, a nationalist outlet affiliated with the state-run People’s Daily, argued in February.

Russian President Vladamir Putin took a personal swing at the U.S. missile defense system Thursday, claiming Russia has no choice but to build up its defenses.

“This destroys the strategic balance in the world,” Putin told reporters at an economic forum.”What is happening is a very serious and alarming process. In Alaska, and now in South Korea, elements of the anti-missile defense system are emerging. Should we just stand idly by and watch this? Of course not. We are thinking about how to respond to these challenges.”

Putin declared that the U.S. is using North Korea as an excuse to develop its anti-missile capabilities. Russia, like China, has also been developing its offensive weaponry, exploring hypersonic missile delivery systems and other improvements.

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