As China Ponders BMD Options, U.S. Must Consider Responses

As China Ponders BMD Options, U.S. Must Consider Responses
The Chinese People’s Liberation Army-Navy guided missile destroyer Qingdao during a search and rescue exercise off the coast of Hawaii, Sept. 9, 2013 (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Brennan D. Knaresboro).

Earlier this month, while visiting Seoul for talks with his South Korean counterpart, China’s defense minister expressed Beijing’s opposition to the deployment in South Korea of the U.S. Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile defense system. That followed a similar declaration by China’s ambassador to South Korea in November, and the topic was reportedly also raised by Chinese President Xi Jinping in talks with South Korean President Park Geun-hye during Xi’s visit to Seoul in July.

The vocal expressions of Chinese concern are puzzling, since the U.S. and South Korean governments have not held any formal talks on such a deployment, and Seoul has so far been reluctant to enter into a proposed U.S.-led regional missile defense architecture. Moreover, even if the U.S. deployed a THAAD battery in South Korea, it could hardly threaten China’s enormous missile arsenal or even its limited number of ICBMs, whose fast flight times, concealed locations and mobile launchers would make for an elusive target.

Some observers have suggested that Beijing is using the issue as a red herring to divert attention from its own missile defense programs. China has indeed been researching BMD for years, though on a low-key basis and with no clear commitment to deploy a national missile defense system like that of the United States.

Keep reading for free!

Get instant access to the rest of this article by submitting your email address below. You'll also get access to three articles of your choice each month and our free newsletter:

Or, Subscribe now to get full access.

Already a subscriber? Log in here .

What you’ll get with an All-Access subscription to World Politics Review:

A WPR subscription is like no other resource — it’s like having a personal curator and expert analyst of global affairs news. Subscribe now, and you’ll get:

  • Immediate and instant access to the full searchable library of tens of thousands of articles.
  • Daily articles with original analysis, written by leading topic experts, delivered to you every weekday.
  • Regular in-depth articles with deep dives into important issues and countries.
  • The Daily Review email, with our take on the day’s most important news, the latest WPR analysis, what’s on our radar, and more.
  • The Weekly Review email, with quick summaries of the week’s most important coverage, and what’s to come.
  • Completely ad-free reading.

And all of this is available to you when you subscribe today.