China’s new ‘Great Walls’



NO one seems to notice, but China now has built, not one but five new “Great Walls”. The first of these five is the anti-ship ballistic missile (ASBM). China is the only country in the world today that has this type of ballistic missile, although Iran may be close to perfecting their own ASBM. China’s ASBM consists of DF21D medium-range ballistic missiles (MRBMs) with a range of 1,500 kilometers, and DF26Cs intermediate range ballistic missiles (IRBMs) that can reach some 4,000 kilometers–far enough to reach targets in Guam.

These missiles are designed to hit moving targets at sea, such as US aircraft carrier battle groups and other major surface ships; but they can also be used to attack fixed targets such as US air and naval bases deployed around China from South Korea all the way to Guam. Such missiles are designed to launch in simultaneous barrages or volleys to avoid counter-measures. Variants of the DF21 were also successfully tested as a direct-accent anti-satellite weapon.

In the event of any major armed conflict with the US and its main allies in the Asia-Pacific region, China’s DF21Ds/DF26Cs can wipe out all aircraft carrier battle groups, other major surface warships, air bases, and naval bases of the US and its allies within minutes of the start of conflict–-up to 4,000 kilometers from the Chinese mainland. This follows the Chinese military dictum of fighting “high-intensity wars of short duration”. This, in effect, erects a “Great Wall” that protects China up to 4,000 kilometers from its coast.

The vulnerability of US and allied air bases to China’s ASBMs needs special mention. The loss or destruction of such air bases will mean US air superiority derived from their possession of advanced stealth bombers and fighter bombers will be lost as well. And loss of air cover means loss of the war itself. Of the numerous US and allied air bases surrounding China, only one air base in South Korea and one in Taiwan are underground, compared to 41 airbases in China which are underground. And it is doubtful whether those two underground bases can last for long with China’s bunker-busting DF15C SRBMs.

The new Great Wall provided by China’s ASBMs is complemented by a second: China’s Undersea Great Wall against US and allies’ submarines. According to the United States Naval Institute’s Proceedings magazine, Beijing “has deployed fixed ocean-floor acoustic arrays off its coasts, presumably with the intent to monitor foreign submarine activities in the near seas.” These fixed underwater monitors are augmented by swarms of unmanned underwater vehicles as well as unmanned surface vehicles or robots that can both monitor and attack enemy submarines. Working with these underwater monitors are China’s various anti-submarine aircraft and sizeable submarine force of some 70 units. US submarines and that of its allies may survive the first few minutes of a “high-intensity war of short duration,” but without air cover, those submarines will not last for long and will be doomed.

The third Great Wall of China consists of interlocking web of air defense systems consisting of HQ9s, HQ19s, S-300s, and S-400s with anti-stealth radars as shown in photo. The systems are designed to guard and protect the entire east coast of China (where most of China’s industrial/technological base and majority of its nearly 1.4 billion population are concentrated) from ballistic and cruise missile attacks as well as from enemy strategic bombers and fighter-bombers.

The fourth of these Great Walls are some 5,000 kilometers of underground tunnel; almost the same length as the ancient Great Wall of China itself. When China did not have nuclear weapons in the early 1950s, and General Douglas MacArthur threatened it with nuclear weapons during the Korean War, Mao made a call: “Dig tunnels deep; store grains everywhere; and never seek hegemony.” Since then, the Chinese people kept on digging tunnels that they have now dug thousands of miles like no other country on earth. These tunnels are where they keep their strategic missiles for a counter-strike in case the US or any other country conducts a first strike.

In addition, China has also constructed 41 of its most important air bases with underground hangars. This is in stark contrast to US air bases or that of its allies which are almost all out in the open; except one in Taiwan and another in South Korea. In the first salvo, US air cover might be crippled badly by China’s ASBMs.

These underground Great Wall of 5,000 kilometers of tunnels are augmented by metro subways in every major Chinese city, thus forming an extensive civil defense for a good number of its urban population. No other country has a comparable system of civil defense. Hence, in the event of a major conflict, be it conventional or nuclear, China seems to be the most prepared.

The fifth of this new Great Wall are the reclaimed islands in the South China Sea, three of which have three-kilometer runways. These elements of the new Great Wall have two principal purposes. First is to prevent a first nuclear strike by US submarines using the Manila Trench as a surreptitious avenue of approach to get near and strike China’s east coast where most of China’s industrial base and majority of its nearly 1.4 billion population are concentrated. A US first nuclear strike of this nature can drive the whole Chinese nation and civilization to extinction in a matter of hours, if not minutes. The artificial islands can support land-based anti-submarine monitors and anti-submarine aircraft, missiles, and swarms of underwater unmanned vehicles to counter any attempt by the US or its allies to use the depths in the South China Sea for a first nuclear strike against China.

The second purpose of China’s artificial islands is to prevent any possible naval blockade by the US 7th Fleet of the vital Malacca Strait and other nearby straits in the area (i.e., Lombok, Sunda, Makassar, etc.). China’s oil supply coming from the Persian Gulf and trade to and from Europe, the Middle East, and Africa pass through these strategic bottlenecks. A naval blockade of this nature can choke China’s economy and force it to grind to a halt. The runways in those artificial islands reclaimed by China will be used by China’s strategic bombers and multi-role combat aircraft to prevent such blockade from happening. They can also be used by China’s anti-ship ballistic missiles (DF21s and DF26s) to counter such naval blockade against China.

If you are a Pentagon planner, try cracking your brains thinking of a way to penetrate these five “New Great Walls” of China. Just be careful that you don’t go nuts. There is an easy way to do it, however. Uncle Digong just did it when he went to China. Our President is really showing the right way.

The author is a graduate of the Philippine Military Academy Class 1967 and obtained an MPA in 1990 from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. A retired brigadier general, Corpus sent five years with the New People’s Army (1971-76); 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.


Please follow our commenting guidelines.


  1. Roldan Guerrero on

    I dont know how obsessed is the author of this column with China. Maybe for some reasons he was once a recipient of clandestine funds during his age of fictional adventures…when he joined the NPA. War whether it be conventional or nuclear , is determined by superiority of weapons. It may be true that China has developed modern weapons but until now China has not shown the qualites of its war weapons. No country in the world has ever ordered any war armaments from China. This nation has never moved out of the general fact that their products are known of the lowest quality. Until now, China has not developed an engine of good quality to power its aircrafts. Tests performed showed showed their Jet fighters dive to crash from engine failures. Technology Advancement is attained from continous decades of research and development. China is producing its arms from hacked tecnologies which are not properly manufactured as China has never come out of producing inferior products all pirated and copied illegally. If Ret. Brig. Gen. victor Corpuz is the man behind who convinced Pres. Duterte to dump America in favor of China, he should stop since FAILURE WILL OCCUR JUST LIKE THE WAY HE DID IN JOINING THE NPA….

  2. This is like a science fiction movie, if this is accurately true, US and its allies must have already know all about this, thru intelligence, and must have plans and prepared to counter it, There is only one way to find out, if China’s preparation for its defense and offense, is right and effective, is to have a real war. All we can do, for now is speculate and prepare for it our selves. This is a job for our politicians and military, to prevent history repeat itself again. What we have to expect is, there will be no winner, if this will happen. I don’t agree with DU30 siding with China, he could have stayed neutral, instead of siding with anyone. Our country is so much divided, because we never have a common enemy like Vietnam, that bind its people together, to save their country, a failure of our leaders, to bind as together as one people and one nation with one goal.

    • Victor N. Corpus on

      There is no fiction whatsoever in the five new Great Walls outlined above, Rey. They all exist in the real world.

  3. there is something wrong about the analysis on the artificial islands.

    i don’t think these artificial islands will prevent blockade of China. they should be watching on the choke points like Sumatra straits, Luzon straits, where the superior navy of the US can block any ships coming to trade with China.

    • Victor N. Corpus on

      The artificial islands can support China’s strategic bombers with long-range cruise missiles as well as J-20s that can attack and destroy the US 7th Fleet that will try to blockade Malacca Strait. Said islands can also house DF21s and DF26s if the US will try distant blockades, Dagimas. US secret bases in the Marianas can also be neutralized from these artificial islands.

  4. China, thanks to Deng Shiao Ping, is now a domineering state-capitalist, imperialist who cannot survive without substantially sharing control of global market and sources of raw materials(especially energy). As an imperiaslist country, she needs to improve not only her defense capability but most importantly her milirtary offensive readiness and ability. Reading from an article – ” Assymetic Warfare” written by a former PLA officer, corroborated by recent announcement by the Chinese Government to reduce the number of armed forces, conventional warfare is now becoming overshadowed by cyber and economic warfare.

    • Victor N. Corpus on

      It is called “Unrestricted Warfare”, Benzirach. I will see if I can use that as the subject of my next article for Harvard Veritas.