While Congress Dithers on Confederate Statues, China Builds 119 New ICBM Silos

Charles Dharapak

While House Democrats consider crucial decisions on such weighty issues as which statues of Southerners get removed from the Capitol, word emerged Thursday that the People’s Republic of China has undertaken a massive construction project to dig and fortify more than 100 new silos to house ICBMs.

Newly-released photos from the private commercial satellite company Planet appear to show upwards of 120 silos under construction spread over a vast swath of desert in northwestern China.

Experts at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies said the excavations appear capable of housing China’s DF-41 ICBM, which can contain multiple warheads and be delivered to targets in excess of 9,000 miles distant.

Not to draw too fine a point here but, hello, a 9,000-plus mile range would cover the United States. Flight distance from Yumen, a city near the new construction, to Washington, D.C. is only a little more than 6,000 miles.

Some of us recall the media’s near-panic and speculation about a nuclear Armageddon when North Korea fired some test missiles that crashed harmlessly into the Sea of Japan, which North Korea calls the East Sea because, well, Japan.

But, of course, those potentially cataclysmic events occurred during the Republican presidency of Donald Trump, which media said was filled with deep worries and dark threats, including mean tweets and outright lies.

These new active Chinese underground projects, first reported by The Washington Post, began right around Joe Biden’s January inauguration. But not to worry. They could not possibly be actual threats to the U.S. Homeland because Biden is a Democrat, who only misspeaks.

Also, Biden once chaired the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and says he has a really good relationship with China’s Chairman Xi Jinping. For instance, they’ve even shared toasts.

Additionally, the Big Guy’s son, Hunter, has had lucrative long-term business relationships in China, which Joe Biden said are not an ethical or political problem because he’s never talked to his son about them. So, no worries there.

At the recent G 7 summit in Britain, Biden tried to convince allies of the growing strategic threat China represents. The response, however, was not positive. Perhaps because just a few weeks ago the American president told the world that climate change, not China, was the worst threat to U.S. national security.

China has not been in the top tier of global nuclear powers because its nuclear arsenal of around 300 weapons is much smaller than the estimated 11,000 nuclear weapons possessed by Russia and the U.S.

But a major expansion of its WMD capabilities would not be out of the question. China is aggressively expanding its naval forces, now including nuclear submarines and an aircraft carrier to project power in Southeast Asia.

In April, China’s Navy commissioned three new warships on the same day. Soon, its fleet of 350 vessels will outnumber the U.S. Navy, which Biden is downsizing to save money for his vast domestic social and infrastructure spending.

China is expanding its array of artificial islands in the South China Sea, is threatening Taiwan, landed its own rover on Mars, plans a manned lunar mission, and is quietly building its own global network of GPS satellites, which missiles use for positioning.

If the 119 new silos seen on satellite photos are genuine, that would mark a significant expansion of China’s nuclear power ambitions. In April, the commander of U.S. nuclear forces, Admiral Charles Richard, described a “breathtaking expansion” of China’s nuclear forces, including more ICBMs and fleets of mobile launchers that can more effectively hide from satellites.

Of course, not all the new construction is necessarily real. China, the U.S., and others have used decoy sites to inflate adversaries’ weapons appraisals in the age of Mutually Assured Destruction. During the Cold War, the U.S. built more silos than missiles, which it sometimes moved from location to location to confuse Soviet targeting.

Back in World War II, allies placed large squadrons of inflated balloons in the shape of aircraft in fields all over southern England to mislead German intelligence on the invasion’s intended landing site.