U.S. officials are growing increasingly worried about China’s rapid military growth amid reports that the country is testing hypersonic weapons.
China denied they test-launched a hypersonic missile into space in August after a Financial Times report that it circled the entire earth and landed within 25 miles of its target.
"The U.S. does not currently have the ability to track this weapon, much less defeat it. It will give the Chinese the ability to conduct a nuclear strike anywhere in the world without warning,” said Col. Stephen Ganyard: USMC (ret.).
The missile, capable of carrying a nuclear warhead, reportedly circled the entire globe at five times the speed of sound. This comes as China works to build up its strategic and nuclear weapons systems. Both China and Russia have tested hypersonics. The US has not.
“We’ve made clear, we are concerned about the military capabilities that the PRC continues to pursue,” said White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki.
Other feats of military strength include more than 250 missile silos built for nuclear warheads in China's western desert – seen in a satellite photo near the city of Yumen.
They've also deployed nuclear ballistic missiles launched from submarines.
China's military expansion goes beyond missiles and other weapons into cutting-edge technology. Nicolas Chaillan, the Pentagon's chief software officer, recently resigned because he thinks China will dominate important areas like artificial intelligence in the years ahead.
He told the Financial Times: "We have no competing fighting chance against China in 15 to 20 years. Right now, it's already a done deal; it is already over in my opinion."
Zack Cooper, Sr. Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, says the US is having a “ very hard time getting our hands around exactly how to deal with this high tech challenge from a non-democratic competitor.”
China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the missile was a routine test of a spacecraft, to verify the reusability of the technology. But went on to warn the US and Canada to avoid provoking war.
“That suggests that China is either preparing to fight a nuclear conflict – or it's trying to deter things on the nuclear level if there's a conventional conflict. Either way that's a concerning pattern of behavior,” says Cooper.
Gordon Chang, author of The Great U.S.-China Tech War, warns that the US must accelerate its weapons development or “we could lose a war” against China.
Now, it is up to America's intelligence community to figure out how it will respond.