The Chinese wasted no time responding to U.S. President Donald Trump’s tough talk regarding the South China Sea by reportedly deploying an advanced Dongfeng-41 ICBM system in Heilongjiang Province, which borders Russia.
Xi Jinping’s gave a powerful speech at Davos, in which he essentially laid Chinese claim to the mantle of global neoliberalism, and now the Chinese are moving to project their power – believing that Trump’s “America First” doctrine has created a “superpower vacuum.”
Additionally, on Monday, a senior Chinese diplomat said that Beijing is prepared to “assume a role of world leadership if others step back from that position” after U.S. President Donald Trump pledged in his inaugural address to put “America first.” Many international observers have perceived this move as signaling a U.S. retreat from leading the post-WWII neoliberal alliance.
According to China’s nationalist Global Times, “the Chinese military intentionally revealed the Dongfeng-41 and connected it with the inauguration of US President Donald Trump. They think this is Beijing’s response to Trump’s provocative remarks on China.”
The Global Times reports that the images of the nuclear weapons brigade’s deployment were timed to coincide with Trump’s inauguration as a means flexing Chinese muscle in light of the harsh tone taken towards China in comments by Trump and the White House. In fact, China’s foreign ministry today urged the US to “act and speak cautiously” when it comes to the disputed South China Seas to “avoid harming the peace and stability” in the region after comments by White House press secretary Sean Spicer.
The ICBM system was placed in the Heilongjiang Province, which borders Russia. However, Russia welcomed the placement of China’s ICBM next to its border, noting that it did not take the deployment as an indication of threats toward Russia. “The deployment of the DF-41 near Russia’s border should not be read as a threat to Russia,” noted military analyst Konstantin Sivkov in comments to RIA Novosti.
“DF-41 missiles placed near Russia’s border are a smaller threat than if they were placed deeper in the Chinese territory. Such missiles usually have a very large ‘dead zone’ [area within minimal range that cannot be attacked by a weapon],” Sivkov said.
Moscow agreed with Sivkov’s assessment, stating that China is Russia’s “strategic partner in political and economic senses.”
“Certainly, the actions of the Chinese military, if the reports prove correct, the military build-up in China is not perceived as a threat to our country,” said Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov.
The implied threat is a clear one – China will not be bullied – and certainly aimed at the U.S. as a display of Chinese military strength, as noted by the ominous tone in the pro-government and nationalistic Global Times report – a communist party mouthpiece in China:
The Global Times added, “China’s nuclear capability should be so strong that no country would dare launch a military showdown with China under any circumstance, and such that China can strike back against those militarily provoking it. A military clash with the US is the last thing China wants, but China’s nuclear arsenal must be able to deter the US.”
Essentially, the message is that the US has not paid China’s military the respect it deserves and that the Chinese must now — after realizing the flippant U.S. attitude and lack of respect towards Chinese “core interests” — procure a level of strategic military strength that will force the U.S. to respect it. The Chinese intention is clearly to let the Trump administration know that they will not be pushed around in their own backyard.
The U.S. should proceed cautiously, as the Chinese hold over a trillion dollars in U.S. debt – a weapon likely much more deadly to the U.S. empire than any nuke.