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China Threatens EMP Attack In South China Sea
Chinese state media on Tuesday rather unsubtly decided this would be a good time to chat with a panel of “experts” about the possibility of using an electromagnetic pulse weapon (EMP) against American ships that enter portions of the South China Sea illegally claimed by Beijing.
The timing suggests it was a bit of saber-rattling by a Communist Party nervous about its power and prestige after the Wuhan virus disaster, but some degree of escalation in the South China Sea has long been a concern for the U.S. Navy and ships from across the free world.
To put it bluntly, an EMP strike on U.S. warships would involve detonating a small nuclear warhead above them, but China’s state-run Global Times threw in some speculation about “low-energy laser devices” to keep their saber from rattling too loudly:
To counter US’ repeated trespasses into Chinese territorial waters, the Chinese military has the option of using new approaches, including the deployment of electromagnetic weapons, Song Zhongping, a Chinese military expert and commentator, told the Global Times on Tuesday.
Firing at US warships is not a good choice unless the US fires first, and that would result in the start of a China-US military conflict, Song said, noting that bumping into US ships might also not be a good counter, as lessons have been learned from the Black Sea bumping incident between the Soviet Union and US in 1988.
But the use of electromagnetic weapons, including low-energy laser devices, could be viable, as they can temporarily paralyze US ships’ weapon and control systems without visible conflict but can send a strong warning, according to Song.
Electromagnetic weapons can emit electromagnetic waves that can potentially jam electronic devices of target vessels and will not cause casualties, military observers said...
These EMP threats were prompted by the most recent series of U.S. Freedom of Navigation operations (FONOP) in the South China Sea, which essentially involve sailing through waters claimed by China to demonstrate that international freedom of navigation will be protected. The Chinese are particularly exercised by the presence of the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt and its strike group in the region, and while the Global Times did not explicitly mention it, the USS Theodore Roosevelt’s visit to Vietnam was deeply troubling to Beijing.
“This is the third time in just a week US warships are known to have trespassed into the South China Sea: US guided missile destroyer McCampbell on March 10 trespassed into China’s territorial waters in the Xisha Islands, and amphibious assault ship America and littoral combat ship Gabrielle Giffords sailed in operations in the South China Sea on Friday,” the Global Times complained.
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