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.