100 years CPC celebrations: No military parade, not yet a military alliance with Russia, but new ICBM silos

100 years CPC celebrations: No military parade, not yet a military alliance with Russia, but new ICBM silos

As the CPC euphorically celebrates the centenary of its founding, China renewed and expanded the friendship treaty with Russia, but still rejected Putin´s offer for a military alliance. The so called wolf´s warrior rhetoric is a little bit reduced and the CPC doesn´t hold a military parade with marching soldiers, presentation of tanks, armed vehicles, missiles and rockets, but a total of 71 top Chinese military aircraft, including a large formation of J-20 stealth fighter jets and a new type of large helicopter, joined the celebrations of the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party of China (CPC) on Thursday in Beijing by delivering an aerial performance that experts said reflected the Chinese military’s adherence to the absolute leadership of the Party and the rapid development of China’s aviation industry under the Party’s leadership.Spearheading the aerial formations, a new type of helicopter dubbed by military observers as the Z-8L made its first public aerial performance, flew past Tiananmen Square hoisting a CPC flag, with two Z-10 attack helicopters flying in a same formation. Four more Z-8Ls followed in a second formation.Twenty-nine Z-10 and Z-19 attack helicopters in the third formation went into a formation representing the number “100,” and a 10-aircraft J-10 fighter jet formation from the August 1 Aerobatic Team representing “71,” or July 1, the birthday of the CPC, soared past in the sky.Then came 15 J-20s, five each in three V-shaped formations, with a group of 10 K-8 trainer jets from the Red Eagle Aerobatic Team wrapping up the aerial performance by leaving long streams of colored smoke behind.It looked a littlle bit like China´s biggest weapon trade fair in Zhuhai some days ago, this time as Aviation fair:

PLA’s latest, most advanced warplanes invited to perform at Zhuhai Airshow 2021

By Liu Xuanzun Published: Jun 21, 2021 08:48 PM The J-20 stealth fighter jet, Y-20 large transport plane, Z-20 utility helicopter, FC-31 stealth fighter jet and GJ-11 stealth armed reconnaissance drone feature in the poster for AVIC's 2021 work conference. Photo: Screenshot from AVIC's Sina Weibo account

The J-20 stealth fighter jet, Y-20 large transport plane, Z-20 utility helicopter, FC-31 stealth fighter jet and GJ-11 stealth armed reconnaissance drone feature in the poster for AVIC’s 2021 work conference. Photo: Screenshot from AVIC’s Sina Weibo account

 Some of the most advanced warplanes in the fleet of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Air Force will be invited to perform at the Zhuhai Airshow 2021, which is scheduled for late September and early October, the exhibition’s organizer announced on Sunday.

Originally planned for November 2020 but postponed to this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, preparations for the 13th edition of Airshow China – also known as the Zhuhai Airshow since it will be held in Zhuhai, South China’s Guangdong Province – are going smoothly, the organizer said in a statement on Sunday, at the 100-day countdown to the event.

The event’s organizers will invite the PLA Air Force to put its advanced warplanes and equipment on display, in particular the latest planes that were featured in China’s National Day military parade in 2019. Those aircraft will deliver flight performances, the statement read.

While the statement did not elaborate on the exact types of warplanes, some of the latest aircraft featured in the 2019 parade included the J-20 stealth fighter jet, the H-6N strategic bomber, several types of special mission aircraft, as well as a type of armed reconnaissance stealth drone, the GJ-11, which was only carried on a truck and did not fly at the parade.

China’s independently developed Wing Loong II armed reconnaissance drone, which was a hot item in several previous air shows but only in static displays, will hopefully give its first dynamic demonstration at the Zhuhai Airshow 2021, the statement said.

The PLA Air Force’s August 1 Aerobatic Team and the Red Eagle Aerobatic Team from the Aviation University of the PLA Air Force will also give performances with J-10 fighter jets and K-8 trainer jets, respectively.

About 400 companies from China, the US, the UK, Germany, Sweden, Switzerland, Russia, Canada and Brazil, including internationally renowned ones like Boeing and Airbus, as well as China’s top aviation and arms firms including Aviation Industry Corp of China, China Aerospace Science and Industry Corp, China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp, China North Industries Group Corp, China Electronics Technology Group Corp and Aero Engine Corp of China, have confirmed their participation in the show, which will have displays on a field of more than 100,000 square meters, the event organizer said.

The China State Shipbuilding Corp will for the first time bring maritime defense products to the show, the organizer said.

The Zhuhai Airshow has become a comprehensive arms exhibition that not only features aviation products but also land and maritime weapons and equipment, plus civilian-use products. Since it was postponed for a year, it is even more highly anticipated, and more surprises could await, a Chinese military expert who requested anonymity told the Global Times on Monday.


According to Chinese sources all of the participating aircrafts which performed at the centenary of the CPC in Beijing are allegedly domestically developed and advanced, reflecting the rapid development and the achievements of China’s aviation industry under the leadership of the Party, Fu Qianshao, a Chinese military aviation expert, told the Global Times on Thursday.With the advanced warplanes, the Chinese military will be able to better safeguard the country, Fu said.The performance by China’s new military aircraft at the CPC centennial celebrations showed the Chinese military’s adherence to the absolute leadership of the Party, analysts said.Xi Jinping, general secretary of the CPC Central Committee, said at the ceremony that China will elevate its armed forces to world-class standards so that „we are equipped with greater capacity and more reliable means for safeguarding our national sovereignty, security, and development interests,“ the Xinhua News Agency reported on Thursday.

„We must accelerate the modernization of national defense and the armed forces,“ said Xi, also Chinese president and chairman of the Central Military Commission.However, fifteen J-20 stealth fighter jets soared past Beijing skies in formation during the Communist Party of China’s (CPC) centenary celebrations on Thursday, marking the largest number of the country’s most advanced warplane displayed to the general public in a single event, with analysts saying that the aircraft has started mass production and demonstrated capability to safeguard the country. The J-20s, five in each of the three V-shaped formations, flew past Tiananmen Square as part of aerial performances to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the founding of the CPC.

Xi dressed in a Mao uniform said, the Chinese people will never allow any foreign force to bully, oppress or subjugate them.“Anyone who would attempt to do so will find themselves on a collision course with a great wall of steel forged by over 1.4 billion Chinese people,“ he said.“We have never bullied, oppressed or subjugated the people of any other country, and we never will,“ he added. China had always worked to safeguard world peace, contribute to global development and preserve international order, Xi said, calling for continuous efforts to promote the building of a human community with a shared future.

However the USA is alarmed about reports about a possible expansion of China´s  nuclear arsenal because of China’s new missile silos in the desert More than a hundred rocket systems are being built in Western China – experts suspect that this will result in an expansion of the nuclear potential. The US State Department has now turned to Beijing with a message.The satellite images show the considerable extent of the construction work. As the Washington Post reports, the construction of more than a hundred new silos for ballistic ICBMs has apparently begun in a desert in Western China near the city of Yumen.

ICBMs are the primary means of delivering nuclear weapons. The photos show 119 almost identical construction sites. Now there is a reaction from the US government. Ned Price, spokesman for the State Department, responded to the revelations on Thursday (local time): “This construction work worries us. They raise questions about what China is really up to. «The development suggests that the People’s Republic wants to expand its nuclear power faster and further than previously assumed. Price continues: „We call on Beijing to work with us to ensure that there is no destabilizing arms race.“ The Washington Post published satellite images that researchers at the James Martin Center in California had evaluated. So far it is assumed that China has only 250 to 350 nuclear weapons, with the new silos a considerable increase would be possible. Together with construction sites in other parts of China, the total number of missile silos amounts to around 145, the researchers report.

 The new silos are likely for a Chinese ICBM called „DF-41“, it said in the article with reference to researcher Jeffrey Lewis. This could carry multiple warheads and hit targets up to 15,000 kilometers away – which could even bring the US mainland within range. The sometimes drastic statements made by Chinese President Xi Jinping on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party were of course followed closely in Washington. One had „noticed“ his threats, said spokesman Price, without wanting to go into further details.

However, an article in the Washington Post by  James M. Acton on June, 30th 2021 from the Carnegie Foundation warns his US American compatriots not to panic and not to overestimate China´s nuclear expansion, intention and the alleged China threat:

“Don’t panic about China’s new nuclear capabilities

The U.S. government probably isn’t panicking, either.

Commercial satellite photos show work underway at what experts describe as construction sites for missile silos for China’s most advanced intercontinental ballistic missiles. Some 119 construction sites have been spotted in a desert plain west of the Chinese city of Yumen. (Planet and the James C. Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies)

at 10:51 p.m. GMT+2

Wednesday morning, new evidence emerged that China is expanding its nuclear arsenal. Specifically, researchers at the Center for Nonproliferation Studies have identified the construction of about 119 new silos, most likely for China’s latest intercontinental ballistic missile, known as the DF-41. Previously, only 16 silos at a different site had been identified.

The news is likely to fuel the narrative that China is expanding its nuclear capabilities dramatically. But worst-case assumptions have usually been wrong when it comes to China’s nuclear weapons program. There are good reasons to suppose that they’ll also be off-the-mark in this case.

Here’s why you shouldn’t panic — especially since the U.S. government probably isn’t either.

Yes, China is expanding its nuclear arsenal … but beware worst-case math.

It’s easy to see why this news might result in a furor.

Consider the possible math. China has a relatively small nuclear arsenal, with a warhead stockpile that currently numbers in the “low-200s” according to the Pentagon. For comparison, the United States possesses around 3,800 nuclear warheads, of which around 1,750 are deployed.

There are reports that the DF-41 can carry “up to 10” warheads. So, if China is building more than 100 new missile silos, each armed with a 10-warhead DF-41, worst-case thinking will lead to claims that China’s stockpile is set to increase by more than 1,000 warheads.

China’s missiles will probably carry less than 10 warheads each.

The Pentagon’s arithmetic appears to be different. In a September 2020 assessment, it states that “over the next decade, China’s nuclear warhead stockpile … is projected to at least double in size.” While this choice of words doesn’t totally preclude a quintupling, it gives the strong impression that the U.S. government expects slower and more modest growth.

How can this be?

To start with, the evidence that the DF-41 can carry 10 warheads is flimsy. According to the 2016 news story that appears to be basis for this claim, U.S. intelligence agencies assess that the missile can deliver “between six and 10 warheads.” Moreover, the story reports on two tests of the DF-41, in which the missile carried only two warheads.

Of course, it’s possible that the DF-41 has been tested with more warheads since 2016. However, the Pentagon’s most recent public assessment of China’s military capabilities, published in September 2020, declines to say how many warheads the DF-41 can carry — as does a public intelligence report of global missile threats from January of this year. So, be cautious about any confident predictions of the DF-41 capabilities.

Moreover, it’s entirely possible that China will follow Russia’s lead and deploy at least some of these missiles with just one large gliding reentry vehicle apiece.

Some new silos may be decoys with no missiles — as the U.S. planned during the Cold War.

There are even reasons to wonder whether every silo will be loaded with a missile.

China wants its nuclear forces to be survivable. It worries that the United States, in a conflict, might attack China’s nuclear forces preemptively (with conventional or nuclear weapons).

China has built a vast network of tunnels to help hide, and therefore protect, its relatively small force of mobile ICBMs. In a similar vein, some of the new silos may be dummies, intended to complicate U.S. targeting plans.

In fact, China may even plan to shuttle a small number of ICBMs among a much larger number of silos in a kind of “shell game.”

The United States almost adopted this approach during the Cold War. The Carter administration planned to build a staggering 4,600 silos to protect just 200 MX/Peacekeeper ICBMs, though the Reagan administration ultimately changed the plans. The layout and spacing of China’s new silos are strikingly similar to the Carter administration’s concept.

China’s new missile is probably a response to U.S. defenses.

China also worries that U.S. missile defenses could mop up any of its missiles that survived a U.S. attack and were launched in retaliation. A recent public U.S. intelligence assessment acknowledges that “nearly all of our adversaries are concerned with U.S. missile defenses and have devised various methods to complicate missile defense operations.”

The DF-41 is likely one such countermeasure. It could be used to deliver a glider that can fly underneath U.S. radars and thus evade U.S. defenses. Alternatively, if loaded with multiple warheads, it could help China to overwhelm those defenses by sheer force of numbers.

Understanding China’s motivations is important in developing an effective response.

China’s ‚wolf warrior‘ diplomats like to talk tough

Follow the fissile material, not the weapons.

So what does this mean for U.S. nuclear policy?

The United States is likely to retain a much larger nuclear arsenal than China. But Washington would like to head off a potential arms race. How can it gain confidence that, despite Beijing’s modernization efforts, the growth in China’s arsenal will remain moderate and slow-paced?

The trick is to follow the fissile material: the plutonium and highly enriched uranium needed to produce nuclear weapons. The Pentagon assesses that “China probably has enough nuclear materials to at least double its warhead stockpile without new fissile material production.” China does not currently appear to be producing more fissile material, though there are concerns that it may restart. (For its part, the United States ceased all production of fissile material for any purpose decades ago.)

One route to avoiding an arms race might be a credible Chinese commitment to use any newly produced fissile material exclusively for civilian purposes or, better still, not to produce any more at all.

Of course, China would be unlikely to make such a commitment until it’s confident in the survivability of its nuclear arsenal. To build such confidence, the United States could commit, in return, to limit its missile defenses — by, for example, not developing or deploying space-based defenses. In fact, it’s actually in the U.S. interest for China to be confident in the survivability of its nuclear deterrent to reduce any pressures on China to use nuclear weapons first in a conflict.

Negotiating the details of such a quid pro quo, including verification, would certainly be challenging. But, then again, the prospect of unrestrained nuclear competition can focus minds in a way that few other security concerns can.”

James M. Acton holds the Jessica T. Mathews Chair and is co-director of the Nuclear Policy Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.


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