The video shows the Dongfeng-26 missile being put through its paces with improved stability and accuracy in a move analysts believe aims to send a clear message to Washington about Beijing’s military muscle. The missile is also known as the “Guam Killer” because its 1,864 miles to 3,567 miles range puts the US island in the western Pacific within striking distance. Footage of the missile was broadcast on state broadcaster CCTV against a backdrop of intensifying military rivalry between China and the US.
It showed four fin-like flight control surfaces around the missile nose’s in a report on military exercises in northwest China.
Experts said the fins provide better stability for the missile as it nears a moving target, such as a US aircraft carrier.
They said it could be used in nuclear, conventional and anti-ship strikes, meaning China could use it to attack US warships and naval bases in the volatile Asia-Pacific region.
The Chinese People’s Liberation Army Rocket Force launched at least one Guam Killer during the drill.
Adam Ni, a China researcher at Macquarie University in Sydney, said the video sent “a clear message to the US about China’s growing missile capability, and that it can hold at risk US strategic assets, such as carriers and bases”.
He said: “It’s an attempt to reinforce the notion that the PLA has the capability to sink US carriers and inflict unacceptable damage on American forces.
“Within the context of increasing strategic competition and tension between the two countries, the latest drills are just another signal to the US about the prevails of escalation, including by intervening militarily in support of Taiwan against China.
“We are likely to see more of these drills if bilateral relations worsen.”
The footage was broadcast a week after US Admiral John Richardson said the US Navy could not ruled out sending an aircraft carrier through the Taiwan Strait.
Tensions are reaching boiling point with the US sending two warships through the strait last week and Taiwan claiming multiple PLA military jets had also flown near the southern tip of the self-ruled island.
James Floyd Downes, a lecturer in comparative politics at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, said releasing footage of the missile drill was a calculated political act.
He said: “Beijing is demonstrating its military capacity and overall strength in power.
“This is arguably a strategic power play and a sign to Washington and the Trump administration of its underlying military power – a key strategy taken directly from the realist playbook in international relations.”