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China fires barrage of ballistic missiles as warning to US

On Wednesday morning, China launched two medium-range missiles into the South China Sea, sending a pointed warning to the United States.

These launches were one of many Chinese military exercises being conducted throughout this month— a time of rising tensions with the United States over territorial claims in the South China Sea.

This move comes after an American U-2 spy plane entered a no-fly zone during a Chinese naval drill in the Bohai sea with China calling it a “naked provocation”. It is also said to be a response to US blacklisting twenty-four Chinese companies for being involved in the construction of artificial islands in the South China Sea.

In addition, US has neared the end of its annual military drills in Hawaii. This is the world's largest maritime exercise with ten navies partaking in the activities representing US’ regional allies and partners.

Furthermore, on 21st August, the New York Times reported, “American Warships have sailed into disputed waters in the South Chinese Sea”, increasing tensions between the two nations. Of the two missiles, one was a DF-26B, launched from the northwestern province of Qinghai, while the other, a DF-21D, lifted off from Zhejiang province in the east. Both missiles were shot into an area between the Hainan province and the Parcel Islands.

The “aircraft-carrier killer” or the DF-21 can attack moving targets at sea. On the other hand, the DF-26 dual-capable missile is a category of weapons banned by the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty signed by the US and Soviet Union towards the end of the Cold War.

It has a range of around 4,500km, which means that it can reach the West Pacific and the Indian Ocean as well as American facilities in Guam, and even the Australian city of Darwin.

Mark Esper, the US defence chief, said that China has repeatedly fallen short of promises to abide by international laws. Not to mention, it seems as though China is flexing its muscles the most in Southeast Asia.

“In terms of launching ballistic missiles, the U.S. Navy has 38 ships underway today in the Indo-Pacific region, including in the South China Sea,” Vice Admiral Scott D. Conn, said. He also stated that China had the right to carry out military drills “within international laws and norms.”

Senior Col Wu Qian, a spokesman for the Chinese Ministry of National Defense, confirmed that China had carried out long-planned drills over an area that stretched from Qingdao in northeastern China to the disputed islands in the South China Sea known as the Spratlys. "The above exercises are not directed at any country," Wu said at a regularly scheduled briefing in Beijing.

With mounting tensions between the USA and China, it is clear that a Cold War is afoot. One must ponder whether this elaborate show of military may be the beginning of a dangerous arms race.

Reporter- Ananya Sreekumar

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