A closer look at the arsenal China paraded to stir pride at home — and unnerve rivals abroad

Wednesday - 02/10/2019 12:35
Military aircraft in formation fly over a military parade in Beijing marking the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China. (China Daily via Reuters)
Military aircraft in formation fly over a military parade in Beijing marking the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China. (China Daily via Reuters)
China marks 70 years of Communist rule with a display of military muscle

When it comes to China's high-tech military arsenal, just hearing the names can be intimidating: hypersonic missiles, stealth drones and "carrier killers."

To the uninitiated, they may sound like weapons ripped from the pages of science fiction.

But they're here today, and experts say they're part of China's strategy to stir nationalist pride at home — and have the added effect of unnerving potential rivals abroad.

President Xi Jinping hosted an unprecedented military parade on Tuesday, marking 70 years of Communist rule and meant to flex Beijing's military muscle.

 

Military vehicles carrying hypersonic DF-17 missiles travel past Tiananmen Square during the parade. (Jason Lee/Reuters)
Military vehicles carrying hypersonic DF-17 missiles travel past Tiananmen Square during the parade. (Jason Lee/Reuters)
 

Some 15,000 troops marched through part of Tiananmen Square in an 80-minute show of force, featuring manned and unmanned military aircraft and a wide array of missiles. 

A leading U.S. expert on the Chinese military called it the "largest, most impressive military parade in the history of the world."

In particular, wrote Prof. Andrew Erickson of the U.S. Naval War College's China Maritime Studies Institute, China's unveiling of new missiles has put the country "at the cutting-edge of frontier military technologies."

Forty per cent of the arms on display Tuesday had not been shown in public before, according to Chinese state media.

Among the most prominent new additions was the Dongfeng-17 (DF-17). What sets the missile apart from conventional arms is its use of a hypersonic technology — described by the U.S.-based Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance as incorporating "the speed of a ballistic missile with the manoeuvring capabilities of a cruise missile."

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 Keywords: China

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