China’s armed forces are expected to roll out an array of new weapons at a military parade in Beijing next week as President Xi Jinping shows off his ambitious military modernization program. China’s advanced missiles will be a main attraction at the Oct. 1 parade to mark seven decades of Communist China. Many of them are designed to attack the aircraft carriers and bases that undergird U.S. military strength in the region.
Among them are the so-called “carrier killer” Dongfeng-21D (DF-21D), unveiled at a parade in 2015, which China says can hit warships at a range of up to 1,500 kilometers, and the DF-26 intermediate range missile, dubbed “Guam killer” in reference to the U.S. Pacific island base. Attention in state media has focused on the DF-41 intercontinental ballistic missile, which can carry several nuclear warheads and reach the U.S., forming the backbone of China’s nuclear deterrent. China has also made rapid strides in developing hypersonic missiles, known as the DF-17, which theoretically can maneuver sharply at many times the speed of sound, further bolstering the reach of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA).China has said about 15,000 personnel and more than 160 aircraft will be in the procession, making it larger than the last mass parade in the capital in 2015 celebrating the 70th anniversary of the end of World War Two. Officials say Tuesday’s parade is not meant as a “muscle flexing” exercise.
But China is facing a tricky strategic situation, boxed in by U.S. allies and military bases near the Chinese coast, including U.S.-armed Taiwan, and repeated challenges to its claims of sovereignty in the disputed South China Sea. Chinese Defense Ministry spokesman Ren Guoqiang on Thursday said the world was not a safe place and that the PLA “must be fully prepared and bide its time for battle.”