Chinese missiles can ravage U.S. bases

Report cites 5 sites in Asia

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China's military can destroy five out of six U.S. bases in Asia with waves of missile strikes as the result of its large-scale military buildup that threatens U.S. access and freedom of navigation in East Asia, according to a forthcoming congressional report.

“The main implication of China’s improved air and conventional missile capabilities is a dramatic increase in the [People’s Liberation Army’s] ability to inhibit U.S. military operations in the region,” a late draft of the report by the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission concludes.

The U.S. government has growing concerns over what the report says are “China’s improving capabilities to challenge the U.S. military’s freedom of access in East Asia.”

The draft report - the final version is set for release Wednesday - has been disclosed as tensions in Asia intensify over growing assertiveness by the Chinese military in the Yellow Sea, the East China Sea and the South China Sea.

President Obama, during his recent visit to Asia, frequently mentioned growing U.S. concerns about “maritime security” and the need for stronger alliances against regional threats.

In Japan on Saturday, Prime Minister Naoto Kan thanked Mr. Obama for U.S. support during Tokyo’s recent dispute with China over Chinese fishing near Japan’s Senkaku Islands.

“For the peace and security of the countries in the region, the presence of the United States and the presence of the U.S. military, I believe, is becoming only increasingly important,” Mr. Kan said.

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said last month during the Japan-China dispute that the Senkakus are covered by the U.S.-Japanese defense treaty, a signal to China that the U.S. military is prepared to defend the islands from Chinese encroachment.

The United States also could face a Chinese missile strike on its bases and ships in a future conflict with China over Taiwan, according to the China commission report.

In addition to missiles, the Chinese military buildup includes major deployments and upgrades of Chinese jet fighters that have increased ranges and better weapons, as well as greatly improved air defenses, the report says.

The report says that in the event of a conflict, China missiles alone would be enough to attack and shut down five of the six major U.S. military bases in the region. Guam is the exception because it is 1,800 miles from China.

China’s growing long-range bomber arsenal, however, means the “PLA Air Force’s bomber fleet soon could allow it to target Guam, where the sixth U.S. Air Force base is located,” the report says.

Guam is the site of a major U.S. military buildup in Asia, with the addition of new submarines and bombers and spy aircraft.

U.S. bases vulnerable to Chinese missile attack include two in South Korea, namely Osan and Kunsan air bases, the report says. Each could be destroyed with attacks by 480 short- and medium-range ballistic missiles and 350 ground-launched cruise missiles for each base. The bases are some 240 to 400 miles from China.

In Japan, U.S. bases at Kadena, Misawa and Yokota could be knocked out with 80 medium- and short-range ballistic missiles and 350 ground-launched cruise missiles, the report says. Those bases are between 525 miles and 680 miles from China.

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About the Author
Bill Gertz

Bill Gertz

Bill Gertz is a national security columnist for The Washington Times and senior editor at The Washington Free Beacon (www.freebeacon.com). He has been with The Times since 1985.

He is the author of six books, four of them national best-sellers. His latest book, “The Failure Factory,” on government bureaucracy and national security, was published in September 2008.

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