Lyle J. Goldstein, a research professor who focuses on China at the United States Naval War and a Sinica Podcast guest, argues that the American news media is failing in their coverage of a new class of weapons that could “kill thousands of young Americans in seconds on the modern battlefield.” The piece is in The National Interest, and titled Hypersonics are speeding up great power competition.
At a minimum, there should be an acknowledgment in [the New York Times] and similarly influential media that China is deploying or on the cusp of deploying a hypersonic weapon (DF-17), joining Russia in possessing that novel capability. It is worth emphasizing that, despite ample research in this area, the United States is yet to field any equivalent military capability… This article seeks to make a small contribution against this evident paucity of focus in China defense coverage by summarizing a couple of recent pieces from the Chinese defense press.
Goldstein explains why these weapons are so worrisome:
Unfortunately, there is the troubling side branch of nuclear strategy that dwells on the so-called “stability instability paradox.” In a word, that means that nuclear powers might still fight nasty conventional wars that come just up to the line of nuclear conflict (even though nobody knows where that line actually is). Such circumstances raise the troubling possibility that China and Russia are exploring capabilities that go well beyond the much-discussed “gray zone,” but rather seek to dominate in the potentially decisive middle rungs of military conflict.
- Although Goldstein is a professor at the United States Naval War College, much of his work focuses on de-escalation and conflict avoidance. In the American context, he is a dove, not a hawk. He contextualizes his summary of news about hypersonic weapons as a warning to American news media to avoid jingoistic coverage of China.
- One English-language article that Goldstein links to is from the South China Morning Post last August: China’s hypersonic aircraft, Starry Sky-2, could be used to carry nuclear missiles at six times the speed of sound.