The top Republican on the House Armed Services Committee is warning that America could lose the “new Cold War” with China in the next decade, after Beijing’s launch of a nuclear-capable hypersonic missile that caught US intelligence officials off guard.
Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.) said the test-firing of the missile “should serve as a call to action.”
“If we stick to our current complacent course — or place our hopes in bankrupt buzzwords like ‘integrated deterrence’ — we will lose the New Cold War with Communist China within the decade. The People’s Liberation Army now has an increasingly credible capability to undermine our missile defenses and threaten the American homeland with both conventional and nuclear strikes,” Gallagher said in a statement.
China in August launched the hypersonic missile that traveled around the globe in low orbit before missing its target by a couple dozen miles, the Financial Times reported over the weekend.
The report pointed out that the rocket follows a low-altitude trajectory and can be maneuvered in flight, making it difficult to be detected.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, speaking Monday in Tbilisi, Georgia, said the US military is monitoring the development.
“We watch closely China’s development of armaments and advanced capabilities, and systems that will only increase tensions in the region. You heard me say before that China is a challenge and we’re going to remain focused on that,” he told reporters during a press briefing with Georgia’s Defense Minister Juansher Burchuladze.
China, which wouldn’t confirm the launch, said the missile was actually a spacecraft.
“It was not a missile, it was a space vehicle,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said during a news briefing in Beijing, adding the launch was part of a “routine test” to determine whether it could be reused.
He said the reusability of a rocket can “provide a convenient and cheap method for humans to travel” back and forth from space and noted that other countries have carried out similar tests.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said Europe is already seeing China encroaching on its security through its trade policies and cyber capabilities, and now poses another threat: long-range missiles.
“China is coming closer to us … We see them in the Arctic. We see them in cyber-space. And of course they have more and more high-range weapons that can reach all NATO-allied countries,” he told the Financial Times.
In the editorial in the Global Times — the Chinese Communist Party mouthpiece — China taunted the US over the success of the hypersonic missile.
“If the FT report is to be believed, it means that there is a key new member in China’s nuclear deterrence system, which is a new blow to the US’ mentality of strategic superiority over China,” the editorial said.
“It is important to note the unstoppable trend that China is narrowing the gap with the US in some key military technologies as China is continuously developing its economic and technological strength. China doesn’t need to engage in an ‘arms race’ with the US — it is capable of weakening the US’ overall advantages over China by developing military power at its own pace,” it continued.
With Post wires