By Joe Taitano II
HAGTNA, 08 SEPTEMBER 2023 (GUAM DAILY POST) — A spokesperson for China’s Ministry of National Defense is calling the U.S deployment of anti-missile systems in the Pacific region acts that have “increased the risks of conflict and confrontation.”
Senior Col. Wu Qian, spokesperson for the Chinese defense department, made that statement when asked about the U.S military’s plans for a new 360-degree missile defense system last week.
Whether the deployment of the new missile system will make Guam more secure, or a bigger target has been the subject of local debate since the plans were made public earlier this year.
At least according to Qian, the system does not guarantee greater security.
“Whether Guam is secure or not depends on what role the U.S wants it to play,” the senior colonel said.
“If Guam were to be an outpost to wage wars, it would not be secure even if it were armed to the teeth. We hope the U.S side could abandon the obsolete Cold War and zero-sum mindset and narrow-minded geopolitical thinking and do more things that are conducive to world peace and stability rather than the opposite.”
He tied the deployment of anti-missile systems to future plans by the U.S military to deploy land-based, offensive ballistic missile systems in the Asia-Pacific region; and pointed to the recent U.S withdrawal from international missile development treaties.
Asked for comment on Qian’s assertion, Lt. Cmdr. Katherine Koenig, spokesperson for Joint Region Marianas, stated “the U.S strategy in the Indo-Pacific region is to reinforce and build out a resilient security architecture in the region to sustain a free and open regional order and deter attempts to resolve disputes by force.”
The statement indicated that the new missile defense system was needed to carry out that strategy and respond to regional threats.
“Guam is a key strategic location for sustaining and maintaining U.S influence, deterring adversaries, responding to crises, and maintaining a free and open Indo-Pacific,” the statement added. “The addition of the missile defense system on Guam is intended to deter U.S adversaries from attacking the island. Missile defenses, including the systems being acquired for the Enhanced Integrated Air and Missile Defense components, are intended to complicate adversary plans, induce doubt about the success of offensive missile use, and raise the threshold for conflict by reducing adversary incentives to conduct small-scale, coercive attacks.”
Statements from Qian show a small but significant change in how Guam is viewed by the Chinese military, should conflict erupt between China and the U.S, according to Leland Bettis of the Pacific Centre for Island Security, a local think tank.
Though Guam has always been the main U.S target lined up by Chinese analysts gaming out a war over Taiwan, the Chinese government itself has stopped short of making those statements out in the open, Bettis said.
Things are different now, he said.
“This is the Ministry of Defense saying, ‘We don’t care if Guam is armed to the teeth, we’ll take it out,’” said Bettis.
It was comparable to the U.S Indo-Pacific Command coming out and framing a specific target in the event of war.
Bettis believes that advancing missile technology deployed by the U.S and China in the Indo-Pacific is the signal of a new arms race. He noted that the Chinese spokesperson also tied the deployment of anti-missile systems to the deployment of offensive, ballistic missiles in the region.
A study issued by the RAND Corp., a U.S Department of Defense-backed think tank, recently analysed possible deployment of ballistic missiles to the Pacific, and U.S military officials have been entertaining the idea for several years now.
Officials working on the Guam Defense System have told The Guam Daily Post there’s no offensive component being built into it, though statements provided by the head of the U.S Indo-Pacific Command seem to indicate otherwise.
“When the Chinese talk about Guam being ‘armed to the teeth,’ the question was about, you know, 20 sites for anti-missile systems,” Bettis said. “But it’s already clear the U.S is thinking about intermediate-range ballistic missiles in the region, and in Guam and other places in the region, said Bettis…. PACNEWS