US must be clear to China: hit an ally and we hit back

US must be clear to China: hit an ally and we hit back. By Paul Dibb.

The editor of Beijing’s Global Times — which belongs to the Chinese Communist Party’s People’s Daily — has threatened Australia with “retaliatory punishment”, with missile strikes “on the military facilities and relevant key facilities on Australian soil”, if we send Australian Defence Force troops to assist the US and participate in war with the People’s Liberation Army over Taiwan.

The specific threat made by editor Hu Xijin on May 7 is: “China has a strong production capability, including producing additional long-range missiles with conventional warheads that target military objectives in Australia when the situation becomes highly tense.” It is remarkable that such a blatant threat has received so little attention by the Australian media. …

The problem with Beijing is that it does not seem to see any benefit in detailed discussions about high-level nuclear arms negotiation with any other country. It does not understand the value of detailed discussions about nuclear warfighting. This is a dangerous gap in Chinese understanding about war — especially as its strategic nuclear warheads, which number “in the low 200s” according to the Pentagon, are barely credible as a second-strike capability.

However, US estimates suggest China is planning to double its strategic nuclear forces in the near future and The Weekend Australian last Saturday has reported that Beijing is building more than 100 new silos for intercontinental ballistic missiles in the northwest of the country. All this suggests movement away from a minimum nuclear deterrent force.

By comparison, the US has 1500 deployed strategic nuclear warheads and another 5000 or so stockpiled or retired. (Russia has a similar number of strategic nuclear warheads totalling about 6800.) However, Beijing has about 2000 theatre missiles capable of targeting much of the Indo-Pacific. Most of these are nuclear-armed but some of its conventionally armed theatre missiles already can target the north of Australia.

Everyone loves China.