by JAMES ROSEN, Sinclair Investigative Reporter
Friday, September 18th 2020
WASHINGTON (SBG) – U.S. intelligence agencies have monitored a huge expansion in China’s production and testing of ballistic and cruise missiles over the last decade, in what senior Trump administration officials and outside military analysts call a military buildup unprecedented in human history.
Satellite images taken by U.S. intelligence and declassified in the last week for presentation to officers at the NATO military alliance tell the tale in a juxtaposition of two photographs of the same military parade held in China a decade apart. Both photographs, attributed to Digital Globe, show the same stretch of Tiananmen Square in Beijing as the country staged its annual National Day festivities on October 1.
In the 2009 event, the segment of the military parade that was devoted to the display of missiles took up .48 kilometers, or just under one-third of a mile. In the declassified imagery from the 2019 parade, the missile segment of the parade can be seen extending for longer than two-and-a-half miles: an expansion of nearly tenfold.
“They are going to destroy the strategic equilibrium that has existed heretofore and they’re going to propel the world into uncharted waters,” said Ambassador Marshall Billingslea, a former assistant secretary of the Treasury who was appointed in April to the newly created post of Special Presidential Envoy for Arms Control.
Adding to the concern of senior U.S. officials is China’s aggressive testing schedule. State Department figures released exclusively to Sinclair show that in 2020 alone — despite the coronavirus — China has conducted at least seventy test-launches of ballistic or ground-launched cruise missiles. This puts the Communist regime on track to replicate its feats of the last two years. In 2019, Beijing conducted 225 ballistic missile launches, a number that exceeded the combined number by all other nations in the world. The pattern was the same in 2018.
“These are incredibly dangerous weapons,” Billingslea said in an interview at the State Department this week. Asked what happens when American diplomats seek to engage their Chinese counterparts in meaningful arms control dialogue, Billingslea answered with a single word: “Stonewalling.” At present, the U.S. is seeking at various official levels and through different communications platforms to convince Beijing that the destructive power of its growing ballistic arsenal — and the possibility of an accident, or an unintended escalation of localized military conflict — make it unwise to continue the country’s unrivaled expansion in this arena.
With those entreaties mostly falling on deaf ears, however, Ambassador Billingslea and other U.S. officials have begun to set their sights on an unlikely diplomatic ally: the Russians. In meetings in Vienna last month, Billingslea engaged his Russian counterpart, Sergei Ryabkov, the deputy foreign minister, in talks aimed at persuading the Kremlin to lean on China, with the goal of getting the Asian power to join the next major arms control agreement.
“[Ryabkov] himself has said publicly the next arms control treaty must be multilateral,” Billingslea said. “I agree with that; we agree with that. The next arms control treaty must include China.”
The United States and Russia abide by self-imposed limits of about 1,500 nuclear warheads. But according to estimates derived from Chinese propaganda and open sources, the Communist regime is preparing to outfit just one of its advanced intercontinental ballistic missile systems, the DF-41 — which can travel ranges of up to 9,000 miles at a top speed of Mach 25, and therefore capable of striking the continental U.S. within thirty minutes — with 1,000 nuclear warheads.
Asked to what end the government led by Chinese President Xi Jinping has embarked on its crash missile program, Billingslea said the question is “concerning” because the regime’s intentions remain so opaque. “Their intentions are not clear,” he said. “The same kind of obsessive secrecy that they apply to the coronavirus outbreak is the kind of secrecy that they’re applying to their nuclear weapons program.”