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U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission, "Hearing on China's Offensive Missile Forces (Webcast)," April 1, 2015

This hearing was conducted by the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission on April 1, 2015. The U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission was created by the U.S. Congress in 2000 to monitor, investigate, and submit to Congress an annual report on the national security implications of the economic relationship between the United States and the People’s Republic of China.
April 1, 2015

Wednesday, April 01, 2015
SD-562 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, DC

Hearing Co-Chairs: Vice Chairman Dennis Shea and Commissioner Katherine Tobin Ph.D.


Good morning, everyone. Good morning and welcome to the fourth hearing of the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission's 2015 Report cycle.

I want to thank our witnesses for being here and for the time that they have put into preparing their written statements.

Today's hearing will explore the advancement of China's offensive missile forces, both conventional and nuclear, and the implications of this modernization for the United States. The Commission last examined China's nuclear developments in 2012, and we are returning to the topic today, three years later, looking more broadly at China's missile forces.

Since its establishment in the 1960s, the Second Artillery has been at the core of the PLA's nuclear deterrence mission. However, China's interest in diversifying its nuclear deterrence away from solely ground-based systems means there is now involvement of other PLA branches and services in China's nuclear command and control structure. In 2015, for example, China is on the cusp of a sea-based nuclear deterrent.

China is also seeking improvements to its nuclear forces through the development of advanced missile technologies, such as MIRVs and hypersonic glide vehicles. As questions arise about whether or not China's "no first use" doctrine is, in fact, an absolute prohibition, we ask how will the PLA's nuclear advancements change China's strategic calculations? We hope today's discussion will shed light on that matter.

I'll now turn the floor over to my co-chair, Vice Chairman Shea. Before I do so, though, I would like to thank Senator Harry Reid and his staff for securing this room for our hearing.


Well, thank you, Commissioner Tobin, and welcome everyone and thank you for joining us today.

Until recently, the Second Artillery's arsenal consisted of only nuclear ballistic missiles. With the development of China's conventional missile forces since the 1990s, that has changed. Initially focusing on shorter-range missiles for Taiwan contingencies, the PLA has expanded its strike options by developing longer-range missiles and developing a variety of launch platforms. The PLA's anti-ship ballistic missile, for example, provides China the ability to threaten U.S. Navy aircraft carriers from the Chinese mainland.

In line with its rapid buildup of conventional capabilities, the Second Artillery appears to have improved its bureaucratic stature within the PLA. Once considered merely a supporting force to the ground, air, and naval services, the Second Artillery now occupies a central role in PLA deterrence strategy and warfighting.

Although conventional weapons provide China with additional flexibility in its national deterrence strategy, the risk of escalation remains high. Wrongly estimating an adversary's perception of a conventional missile strike could quickly escalate the conflict to involve additional parties or even to the nuclear realm.

As the United States continues to reconsider its presence and strategy in the Asia-Pacific, the Commission seeks to better understand the implications of China's offensive missiles, not only for the United States but also for our friends and allies in the region.

As a reminder, the testimonies and transcript from our hearing will be posted on the Commission's Web site, Today's hearing is webcast, and you'll find the webcast on our site as well.

Panel I: China’s Conventional Missiles
Mark Stokes, Executive Director, Project 2049 Institute
Toshi Yoshihara, Ph.D., Professor and van Beuren Chair of Asia-Pacific Studies, U.S. Naval War College
Dennis Gormley, Senior Lecturer, Graduate School of Public and International Affairs, University of Pittsburgh

Panel II: China’s Nuclear Weapons and Emerging Missile Technologies
Christopher Twomey, Ph.D., Associate Professor, U.S. naval Postgraduate School
Christopher Yeaw, Ph.D., Director, Center for Assurance, Deterrence, Escalation, and Nonproliferation Science and Education, Louisiana Tech Research Institute
James Acton, Ph.D., Co-Director of Nuclear Policy Program and Senior Associate, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

Panel III: Implications for the United States
Robert Haddick, Independent Contractor, U.S. Special Operations Command
Evan Montgomery, Ph.D., Senior Fellow, Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments
Elbridge Colby, Gates Fellow, Center for New American Security

See a video of the hearing at:



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