The Disturbing Response to China’s Hypersonic Missile Test

October 23, 2021 Updated: October 26, 2021


Communist China’s apparent test of a nuclear-capable hypersonic missile is highly disturbing. But perhaps even more disturbing is what the episode has revealed about how unserious and ill-equipped the United States appears to be in the face of a regime that is relentlessly pursuing hegemony.

As the House Armed Services Committee reported last year, hypersonic weapons could help adversaries—led by our greatest adversary, the Chinese communist regime—“defeat missile defense systems and strike targets from significant stand-off distances.”

Such a capability, as recently displayed, could “potentially allow China to execute a nuclear strike on any target on earth with near-impunity and very little warning,” as an article published by The Warzone summarizes it.

Others in these pages have compellingly argued this may well constitute a “Sputnik moment.”

Legacy media outlets have been invoking the Cold War, too.

Indeed, Beijing has been engaged in a massive military buildup stirring the worst fears of the 20th century. According to a 2020 Defense Intelligence Agency report, it has already eclipsed America in several critical areas.

‘Hot War’

As China’s military, economic, and technological might have grown, it has been acting more aggressively. If anything, the Chinese coronavirus pandemic has supercharged the aggression, with China seeing an opening to hit the world while it’s down. The hypersonic missile test is just the latest demonstration, coming on the heels of mass incursions into Taiwan’s air space, that Beijing is both testing the reflexes of its rivals and flexing its muscles.

While Chinese officials constantly decry a “Cold War” mindset among Americans, and their Western enablers mimic this position, China has been engaged in a hot war by other means for decades. The hot war has taken the form of a dogged effort to not only dominate every strategically significant realm—and therefore make every other power dependent upon and thus compliant with communist China—but to engage in a global campaign of infiltration and influence to subdue and, if needed, subvert would-be challengers. That so many in the United States parrot the CCP line is a reflection of this hot war.

We have helped abet the CCP with our capital, our technology, and our naivete. The decades-long policy of engagement not only built China up, but allowed it to co-opt such a large, influential, and powerful cohort of American society that it may never have to engage in physical warfare against us to overtake us. We unwittingly turned up the heat in China’s hot war by other means. Our ruling class is increasingly not only subservient to it but aligned with it.

Now, with China having advanced as far as it has relative to the United States in its hot war, we find ourselves mired in a cold one—a cold civil war. The contest between the Woke elite and Deplorable America consumes us, diverting our focus from external threats, and hampering our ability, if not eroding our will, to counter them. This is a coup for the CCP, particularly as the Woke hollow out our most vital institutions.

Consider the military’s focus on purging conservatives under the guise of countering extremism, and broader left-wing domination of the national security apparatus; the coronation of an assistant secretary for health, who was responsible for a murderous nursing home coronavirus policy, as a four-star admiral with an emphasis on the secretary’s transgenderism; and the pledge by the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff to tip off the Chinese military—under a China that he has said is “not an enemy”—to any impending U.S. strike.

Weak Response

In terms of Cold War comparisons, we face an infinitely better positioned and stronger China than the Soviet Union ever was—yet our answer to it is substantially weaker.

Consider the response of the Biden administration, and military and intelligence officials, to China’s latest provocation.

The first official statement from the Biden administration came from press secretary Jen Psaki. She stated that while “concerned about the military capabilities that the [People’s Republic of China] continues to pursue,” the administration “welcome[s] stiff competition.”

Would you welcome stiff competition from your greatest adversary rhetorically, or demonstrate with action overt or covert that there will be consequences to Chinese provocations, and any threats will be met swiftly and mercilessly? This isn’t a call for reckless escalation, but for seriousness, and the need to plant seeds of doubt and fear in our adversaries—doubt and fear clearly lacking at present.

Shortly thereafter, when asked about concern over a China equipped with hypersonic missiles, Psaki’s boss replied, “Yes.” Again, not confidence-inspiring for America, or fear-inducing for China.

In a follow-up, Psaki told reporters that the White House had raised such concerns through “diplomatic channels.”

Can you feel the shivers down Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s spine?

If America was so concerned about China’s hypersonic capabilities, wouldn’t the Biden administration be vowing to dedicate whatever resources necessary to rapidly enhance our missile defenses such that they could neutralize if not render moot the threat of these weapons? Wouldn’t it more broadly be seeking to spur a massive qualitative and quantitative military buildup of our own as a further deterrent to China—instead of imperiling us with trillions of dollars in needless spending?

The Biden Department of Justice snapped to attention almost immediately in response to a farce of a letter from the National School Board Association smearing concerned parents as potential domestic terrorists, and calling for law enforcement to be sicced on them accordingly. Where is the sense of urgency on the actual greatest threat we face?

The responses of other national security and foreign policy officials only further underscore the urgency of the situation.

Following China’s test, Robert Wood, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Conference on Disarmament, told reporters, “We just don’t know how we can defend against that type of technology.”

Such a response is unacceptable.

As is the response of the unnamed U.S. intelligence officials who found themselves surprised at China’s advances.

While it is possible these officials might have just not been in the know, or playing it coy, what would be the benefit of going on the record with these statements?

History suggests they were more likely to have been read in, and truthful. Time and again, America’s national security apparatus has found itself blindsided by China’s military developments over the last two decades.

Biden administration Asia czar Kurt Campbell was telling National Public Radio in 2005, reflecting on studies he had overseen on China’s military modernization years earlier, that “China has exceeded, in every area, military modernization that even the far-off estimates of the mid-1990s predicted.”

Just this past April, we learned that America had been behind the curve in its understanding of China’s nuclear production capabilities, which have put China “well ahead of the pace necessary to double their nuclear stockpile by the end of the decade,” according to the chief of Strategic Command Adm. Charles Richard.

Meanwhile, this missile test comes amid the latest annual report, just out from The Heritage Foundation, on America’s military power. Its assessment? Our armed forces are “only marginally able to meet the demands of defending America’s vital national interests.”

Any serious response from America would demand that we, one, develop more lethal and sophisticated weapons, and defenses against those of our adversaries—on the assumption our enemies will advance and proliferate these and other catastrophic ones; two, rebuild our intelligence capability so we are never blindsided by the likes of communist China, and reorient it away from targeting “Wrongthinking” Americans; and three, further demonstrate our understanding of the China threat by decoupling from it in every strategically significant sector.

And this is before we get into actively confronting China when and where necessary.

Absent such a response, this hypersonic missile test will be looked back on as just one more episode in which the Chinese regime made its malign intentions crystal clear, and America shrugged.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.

Ben Weingarten is a fellow of the Claremont Institute and co-host of the Edmund Burke Foundation’s “The NatCon Squad.” He is the author of “American Ingrate: Ilhan Omar and the Progressive-Islamist Takeover of the Democratic Party.”