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Did China Just Announce the End of U.S. Primacy in the Pacific?

Did China Just Announce the End of U.S. Primacy in the Pacific?

Last week’s military parade previewed a series of game-changing weapons that could neutralize American seapower.

Military vehicles carrying DF-17 ballistic missiles march during a parade to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China at Tiananmen Square on October 1, 2019 in Beijing, China. (Photo by Sheng Jiapeng/China News Service/VCG via Getty Images) 

For decades, the United States has taken China’s ballistic missile capability for granted, assessing it as a low-capability force with limited regional impact and virtually no strategic value. But on October 1, during a massive military parade celebrating the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China (PRC), Beijing put the U.S., and the world, on notice that this assessment was no longer valid. 

In one fell swoop, China may have nullified America’s strategic nuclear deterrent, the U.S. Pacific Fleet, and U.S. missile defense capability. Through its impressive display of new weapons systems, China has underscored the reality that while the United States has spent the last two decades squandering trillions of dollars fighting insurgents in the Middle East, Beijing was singularly focused on overcoming American military superiority in the Pacific. If the capabilities of these new weapons are taken at face value, China will have succeeded on this front. 

In the West, it is called RMA, short for “Revolution in Military Affairs.” The term was first coined by Marshal Nikolai Ogarkov in the early 1980s. Ogarkov, who was at the time serving as the chief of the Soviet general staff, spoke of “developments in nonnuclear means of destruction [which] promise to make it possible to sharply increase (by at least an order of magnitude) the destructive potential of conventional weapons, bringing them closer, so to speak, to weapons of mass destruction in terms of effectiveness.” 

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