Beijing launched a treaty-banned and highly destructive missile into the South China Sea Wednesday morning in a sharp message to Washington, the South China Morning Post reported.
The DF-26B missile, known as an “aircraft-carrier killer,” can be deployed with nuclear attachment in both land and naval capacities. Such missiles are banned under the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, which the United States signed with the Soviet Union during the Cold War. Washington backed out of the treaty last year, citing missile launches like the one China conducted Wednesday.
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“This is China’s response to the potential risks brought by the increasingly frequent incoming U.S. warplanes and military vessels in the South China Sea,” a source close to China’s People’s Liberation Army said. “China doesn’t want the neighboring countries to misunderstand Beijing’s goals.”
Amid rising tensions in the Sino-American relationship, the South China Sea remains contested territory. China has worked toward developing underwater surveillance networks in the area, which can act as a potential tripwire against American naval cruises. Beijing is also upgrading its naval fleet with two new aircraft carriers.
In response, Washington has developed closer ties with allies in the region, such as Australia, Taiwan, South Korea, and Singapore.
“Our robust network of allies and partners remains the enduring asymmetric advantage we have over near-peer rivals, namely China, that attempt to undermine and subvert the rules-based order to advance their own interests, often at the expense of others,” Secretary of Defense Mark Esper said in a speech Wednesday.
In July, Washington announced that it would no longer recognize most Chinese territorial claims in the contested area.
Jack Beyrer is a news writer at the Washington Free Beacon. He covers breaking news in national security and domestic politics. Jack previously interned with RealClearPolitics and the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, and is a graduate of Wake Forest University where he majored in history. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.