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Has China Developed a Nuclear Missile Early Warning System?

Kyodo News Agency learned on August 2 that a nuclear missile expert from the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) said that China has an early warning system that can detect nuclear missiles before they land and can use nuclear weapons to counterattack. The expert pointed out that at present only the United States and Russia possess this technology. If the claim is true, China will enhance its nuclear combat capability and change the world’s strategic balance.

The early warning system is the key to high-end missile defense (MD) technology, composed of manmade satellites and maritime radar, used for detecting the launch of ballistic missiles. China has always been opposed to the United States’ missile defense development.

Yang Chengjun (杨承军) is a retired officer who served for years in Chinese military’s nuclear missile forces, also known as the PLA Rocket Forces. He is also widely known as a security expert in the National Security Commission of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). Yang’s article, titled, “It is inappropriate to hype up nuclear-related issues on the Internet,” was published in a government magazine, Motherland (祖国)” (electronic version on May 12). It states that the Chinese military has an early warning system that can detect nuclear missile attacks within minutes after their launch and conduct a nuclear counterattack before they land. He emphasized that China’s comprehensive nuclear combat capability is not inferior to the United States or Russia.

The system is said to be able to detect nuclear missiles in three stages: the initial stage after launch, the intermediate stage of cruising beyond the atmosphere, and the final stage of returning to the atmosphere. If a counterattack can be carried out within a few minutes, it implies that China has mastered the technology to use early warning satellites to detect heat sources during launch. China is believed to be developing this technology.

Source: Kyodo News Chinese, August 2, 2020