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Chinese military vehicles carrying missiles take part in a parade to commemorate Communist China’s 70th anniversary. Chinese military vehicles carrying DF-17 missiles take part in a parade to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, Beijing, Oct. 1, 2019 (AP photo by Ng Han Guan).

Don’t Turn China’s Hypersonic Missile Test Into a ‘Sputnik Moment’

Thursday, Oct. 28, 2021

The recent report in the Financial Times that China tested a nuclear-capable hypersonic weapon has pundits, members of Congress, and even Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley worried about a “Sputnik moment.” Given the failure of the United States’ own test of a hypersonic missile last week, it seems to many that a hypersonic missile gap has opened, harming U.S. security.

But even if China’s test means it has perfected a new way to deliver a nuclear warhead—a big if—it’s no cause for alarm. A new nuclear delivery system will not meaningfully shift the balance of military power with the United States, nor would it enable a Chinese attack on U.S. partners and allies in East Asia. China already had an assured ability to conduct a nuclear strike on the United States. This test just makes it harder to pretend otherwise. ...

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