China’s New “Great Walls”*

Due to popular demand, Beyond Deadlines is reposting every Monday the still relevant articles of retired Armed Forces of the Philippines intelligence chief Brig. General Victor Corpus that appeared in his BD’s column, Views from the East.

October 31, 2016

NO one seems to notice, but China now has built, not one but three new “Great Walls”.

The first of these three 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.

df-26In 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 US and its allies within minutes of start of conflict – up to 4,000 kilometers from the Chinese mainland. This follows 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 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 in complemented by a second “Great Wall”: 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 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 fifties, 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 dug thousands of miles like no other country on earth. These is 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 opinion of this author is his/hers alone. It is not necessarily the views of Beyond Deadlines.

Victor Corpus, M.P.A.
A graduate of Philippine Military Academy Cl’67; MPA ’90 from Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University; Brig. Gen. Victor N. Corpus, (AFP, retired) spent five years with the New People’s Army (1971-76); detained for 10 years under Martial Law and sentenced to death by musketry; and became Chief, Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. Can be reached at: viccor2003@yahoo.com

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