A new generation of Chinese long-range ballistic missiles has been mobilized in northwest China’s plateau and desert regions, state-run media reported Wednesday after US warships sailed near Chinese-occupied islands in the South China Sea.
China’s Global Times reported the deployment of the DF-26 anti-ship missiles, citing China Central Television. The Global Times hyped the timing of the news, following the US Navy operations, which the news outlet said “sparked discussions among military observers online.”
China claims the DF-26, which has been dubbed a “ship-killer” missile, is capable of traveling more than 4,000 km.
The CCTV report did not say when the missiles were mobilized.
#ChinaDefense China's far-reaching, anti-ship ballistic missile DF-26 has been mobilized to Northwest China's plateau and desert areas as a US warship trespassed into China's territorial waters in the S.China Sea Monday. https://t.co/tAMdaUchrK pic.twitter.com/YQBWhqFbzK
— Global Times (@globaltimesnews) January 9, 2019
Before the announcement of the missile deployment, a US guided-missile destroyer, the USS McCampbell, carried out a “freedom of navigation” operation near the China claimed and controlled Paracel islands, located in the South China Sea.
Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang said the maneuver was a violation of international law and urged the US to immediately cease what he described as provocations. A spokeswoman for the US Pacific Fleet said that the operation is part of efforts “to challenge excessive maritime claims.”
According to a Beijing-based military expert who spoke with the Global Times, a mobile missile launch from deep inside China’s interior would be more difficult to intercept than a strike launched closer to the waters.
The televised coverage of the missiles was the first public appearance of the weapons since they came into service, according to CCTV.