TEHRAN (Press Shia) – A parade by China’s military will offer a rare look at its rapidly developing arsenal, including possibly a nuclear-armed missile that could reach the United States in 30 minutes.
The Dongfeng 41 is one of a series of new weapons Chinese media say might be unveiled during the parade marking the ruling Communist Party’s 70th anniversary in power, AP reported.
Others include a supersonic drone and a robot submarine.
The parade will highlight Beijing’s ambition to enforce claims to Taiwan, the South China Sea and other disputed territories – and to challenge Washington as the region’s dominant force.
The People’s Liberation Army (PLA), the world’s biggest military with 2 million men and women in uniform and the second-highest annual spending after the United States, also is working on fighter planes, the first Chinese-built aircraft carrier and nuclear-powered submarines.
“There are quite a lot of observers, including the US military, who say ‘this is getting close to what we do’ and they are starting to worry,” said Siemon Wezeman of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (Sipri).
The parade on Tuesday will include 15,000 troops, more than 160 aircraft and 580 pieces of military equipment, according to Ministry of Defense spokesman Major General Cai Zhijun.
Many new weapons “will be shown for the first time,” Maj Gen Cai told reporters last week. Asked whether that would include the Dongfeng 41, he said, ”Please wait and see.”
The ability to project power is increasingly urgent for Chinese leaders who want to control shipping lanes and waters also claimed by Japan, South Korea, Vietnam, the Philippines and other governments.
“China has developed nuclear, space, cyberspace and other capabilities that can reach potential adversaries across the globe,” the US Defense Intelligence Agency said in a report in January.
Last year’s spending on the PLA rose 5 percent to $250bn (£228bn), or about 10 times its 1994 level, according to Sipri. The United States, with a force of 1.3 million, was far ahead at $650bn, or more than twice China’s level.
No details of the Dongfeng 41 have been released, but the Centre for Strategic and International Studies in Washington says it may have the world’s longest range at 15,000km.
China’s current mainstay missile, the Dongfeng 31, has a range of more than 11,200 km which puts most of the continental United States within reach.
China has about 280 nuclear warheads, compared with 6,450 for the United States and 6,850 for Russia, according to Sipri. Beijing says it wants a “minimum credible nuclear deterrent” but will not be the first to use atomic weapons in a conflict.