Washington: The decision by US officials to expand its missile defence shield in the Asia-Pacific region, apparently to defend against North Korea, could encourage China to accelerate its own missile programme, analysts have said.
The new effort, which includes the deployment of an early-warning radar system, known as X-Band, in Japan, and possibly another in Southeast Asia, reflects America`s strengthening military and security engagement in the region, which could fuel Chinese fears about ‘containment’ by the US.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Zhu Feng, a leading Chinese security expert at Beijing University, believes that the US announcement is "more likely to speed up an arms race”.
A senior US official acknowledged that the Pentagon would find it difficult to convince China’s People’s Liberation Army that the missile defence architecture isn’t designed to encircle them.
According to the paper, analysts have claimed that China, which is developing its own sophisticated new missile range, including those potentially capable of striking US aircraft carriers operating in the Asia-Pacific, may now be tempted to accelerate its program, in an effort to overwhelm an enhanced missile defence with firepower.
The Pentagon has maintained that North Korea is the only and immediate threat driving the decision-making on missile defence, the paper added.