China and its weapons are now a challenge to the US’s previous military primacy in Asia, according to a Reuters special report on Thursday April 25th.
The Reuters' special report is part of a series, "The China Challenge," on how China’s president, Xi Jinping, is reshaping and rejuvenating China's military, the People's Liberation Army (PLA), by enhancing its missile, naval and nuclear capabilities.
Many of the missiles in Beijing's arsenal now compete with, or outdo those of the US, posing a threat to the decades-long protection that the US has afforded to its regional allies, South Korea, Japan and Taiwan.
Captain James Fanell, a former US Navy intelligence chief, told Reuters that China now has: "the most advanced ballistic missile force in the world" and has "the capacity to overwhelm the defensive systems we are pursuing."
China has now forged a monopoly in one class of conventional missiles that would enable it to strike at US aircraft carriers off its coast, and at bases in Japan or even Guam in the Pacific Ocean.
Under a Cold War-era treaty between the US and Russia, neither country had been allowed to develop these weapons – land-based, intermediate-range ballistic and cruise missiles with a range between 500 and 5,500 kilometres (3,418 miles). But China, which is not a signatory to the treaty, has been deploying these rockets in massive numbers.