China’s assassin’s mace



A MACE is a blunt weapon of medieval times that was used to strike down a more powerful enemy with a single blow. “Assassin’s mace,” or shashoujian, is the term used in China to describe a weapon that they have developed and designed to strike at United States aircraft carrier battle groups.

China started thinking of developing this special weapon way back in 1996. This was the time when the issue of independence was gaining ground among Taiwan’s electorate during the local elections of that year. China tried to send a warning to Taiwan by firing missile tests near one of Taiwan’s islands. The US responded by sending two of its aircraft carrier battle groups (one of which ironically is named USS Independence). This forced China to back off. This incident was followed years later (2004) with a US naval exercise code-named Operation Summer Pulse where the US massed a total of seven aircraft carrier battle groups in the vicinity of Taiwan, sending a very clear message to China that if it ever attempts to invade Taiwan, it will have to deal with this kind of force–-the biggest naval armada the world had ever seen!

This wanton show of force intended to intimidate China could have prompted the latter to hasten the development of a ballistic missile that could hit a moving target at sea, such as an aircraft carrier. Initial reports of an anti-ship ballistic missile (ASBM) started appearing in 2010, in the form of DF21C. The DF21Cs gradually evolved into the more advanced DF21D medium-range ballistic missile (MRBM) with a range of 1,500 kilometers, and the DF26C intermediate range ballistic missile (IRBM) with a range of 4,000 kilometers.

Variants of the missiles were also tested successfully as direct-ascent anti-satellite missile. And since such missiles were designed to hit moving targets, they can surely hit stationary targets as well, like air and naval bases, logistics hubs, communication nodes, command and control, and forces in being of the US and its allies from Korea all the way to Guam. This means that the US’s vaunted air superiority in this part of the world will be at risk to these missiles, as those air bases are out in the open; except one underground hangar in Taiwan and another in South Korea. Within 15 minutes of a major conflict with China, these targets may all be gone. What good are advanced stealth bombers and fighter aircraft if they no longer have functioning air bases? Loss of air superiority can mean loss of air cover and air support; loss of air cover can mean loss of the war itself.

China’s Assassin’s Mace is designed to be launched in barrages or volleys so that aircraft carrier battle groups and air bases targeted for attacks will have no chance for defense. This will ensure that “one blow” can knock down the superior foe, whether the US uses seven or even all of its existing aircraft carrier battle group in the South China Sea.

This development by China of the so-called “Assassin’s Mace” is a virtual Great Wall of China for the modern era. It is coupled by an equally modern air defense system (HQ-9, HQ-19, S-300, S-400); underwater submarine monitors and UUV robots; and some 5,000 kilometers of underground tunnels and 41 underground air bases; plus extensive subway systems in every major Chinese city that serves or doubles as civil defense in times of emergency.

This is China’s modern great wall that is not known to the general public. The Chinese nation really implemented Mao’s call: “Dig tunnels deep; store grains everywhere; and never seek hegemony.” And Deng’s exhortations as well: “… secure our position … hide our capacities and bide our time …”

The “Assassin’s Mace” is a real game changer in the balance of forces between China and the US and its allies. Coupled with China’s geographic proximity making the “Assassin’s Mace” effective in the entire region, there is no way the US can hope to win a conventional war with China. The US advantages of stealth aircraft, aircraft carrier battle groups, satellites, military bases encircling China, and bigger military budgets are all negated by asymmetry: the “Assassin’s Mace” which trumps them all.

Herein lies the danger of a nuclear war. There is a good chance that neocon strategic planners in Washington realize by now that there is no way they can win a conventional war with China, or even Russia and Iran; and the only way for the US to win is a nuclear first strike against this triumvirate.

This is what the citizens of this world should prevent at all costs. The people of the United States, in particular, should wake up now and prevent the handful of neocons and the banking cabal behind them that are bringing the world to the brink of extinction.

A graduate of the Philippine Military Academy Class of 1967 and an MPA 1990 from the Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, Brig. Gen. Victor N. Corpus, (AFP, retired) spent five years with the New People’s Army (1971-1976); was detained for 10 years under martial law, and sentenced to death by musketry; but later became Chief, Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.


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  1. Victor N. Corpus on

    China’s own navigation system is called Beidou. It consists of more that 30 navigation satellites. And the US does not have its own Assissin’s Mace because China is the only country in the world right now that possesses anti-ship ballistic missiles or ASBMs. There is a world of difference between a ballistic missile and a cruise missile. Lastly, the US cannot protect the Philippines against a possible retaliatory attack by China as those attack as designed to come to their targets in barrages. Even South Korea’s planned THAADs are not effective against missiles with no fixed trajectories and coming to them in volleys.

  2. Yonkers, New York
    17 November 2016

    If Brigadier General Victor N. Corpus now thinks that the United States has become completely vulnerable or helpless against China’s new “assassin’s mace,” I am afraid he is completely wrong–and may have to swallow his words.

    Obviously he is completely unaware of that FACT that the United States has the one weapon which has been designed precisely to destroy China’s “assassin’s mace” wherever and whenever China uses it.

    The US is still the most highly technically advanced nation in the world, and still the most powerful, both economically and militarily, and it is just possible that China’s rulers are not ignorant of this. The US “MILITARY-INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX” is alive, kicking and well–and it continues nonstop to devise a panoply of highly sophisticated weapons which the US’s potential adversaries may not be aware exists at all–to their disadvantage and peril.


    • Victor N. Corpus on

      To Mariano Patalinjug: The Assassin’s Mace (DF21s, DF26s) do not have fixed trajectories with maneuverable warheads. The are not fired singly but is barrages or volleys. And there are impervious to attack as they are base anywhere along the more than 5,000 kilometers of strategic tunnels built to protect such weapons systems. Secondly, Mariano should specify and define the so-called FACT he is mentioning. One cannot defend by relying on mere imagination.

  3. the author forgot to mention anti-ballistic missile (ABM). The US probably have them in Alaska, Taiwan and South Korea. These are 80’s stuff.

  4. In 2010 US Congress voted to adopt the recommendation of the Pentagon and the President to establish the Doctrine of Air-Sea Battle as the direct response to Beijing’s systems of A2/D2. Super high-tech Air-Sea battle was conceived in 2006 and from 2010 to the present, and going forward, it is in full technological array withe the USAF and USN. It is the conventional war answer to A2/D2. There will be no nuclear war. To suggest it is Beijing-Duterte propaganda against the United States and nothing else at this point in time.

    • Victor N. Corpus on

      The Air-Sea Battle Doctrine of the United States is useless against the Assassin’s Mace. This is because all air assets of the US will be destroyed or rendered unusable as all US air bases together with their allies in Korea, Japan, the Philippines, Australia, and Guam can be hit by the Assassin’s Mace within the first 30 minutes of a shooting war. With all the air bases destroyed, all the stealth bombers and fighters will be grounded or destroyed. The loss of air power or air cover will mean the loss of the war itself. Now, with regard to the SEA portion of the US Doctrine, all aircraft carrier battle groups and their naval bases will be subjected to barrage attacks of the Assassin’s Mace; and again, in less than an hour, they can be sent to the bottom of the Pacific or China Sea – if they are within 4,000 kilometers from the Chinese mainland.

  5. If not by conventional warfare then by unconventional nukes. US will never want a repeat of Pearl Harbor or the Bataan death march, before that they would rather go ballistic under the better dead than red philosophy.

    Strangely the Chinese have a similar mindset, for them a billion irradiated is acceptable loss even for small gain, the same way they think in terms of business profit.

  6. While written very well… I will say you are off your mark on the conclusion. The US Navy can contain China and would do so from the very start of any confrontation. The Chinese wouldn’t even have a guidance system if it were not for the US. See history of the Long March Rocket. The US has more than a few “Assassin’s Mace” up their sleeve as well. The BIG difference is that the US would use their weapons to PROTECT the Philippines… although it looks like du30 is happy to give it away without a fight anyway.