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China elevates its missile force chief in PLA

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A long-range missile being tested from a Chinese warship in a file photo.

BEIJING (PTI): Fearing that US is making inroads into its neighbourhood, China has elevated a General heading its missile strike force to the rank of Deputy Chief of the People's Liberation Army (PLA), the biggest land force in the world.

Lieutenant General Wei Fenghe, 56, chief of staff of Second Artillery Corps, the PLA's strategic missile force, has been named deputy chief of the general staff, China Central Television's military channel reported, signifying the priority the Red Army is laying in building up its missile arsenal.

By his elevation, the General is likely to join the all powerful Central Military Commission (CMC), China's apex defence body currently headed by President Hu Jintao.

It is also seen as an upgrading of the missile force's strategic importance in the PLA.

"Agree or not, there is a considerable disparity in terms of military muscle between America and China.

"Highlighting the missile force will help in the pursuit of a better balance of strategic weapons between the two countries," Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post quoted Anthony Wong Dong, President of the International Military Association in Macau, as saying.

The missile force was particularly important at a time of territorial disputes in the South China and East China seas, as well as tensions on the Korean Peninsula that have led to a series of military exercises involving US forces coming close to China, he said.

China's missiles programme hit the headlines recently when US military reported that Beijing was fast nearing deployment of a new super-carrier killer missile that could strike its aircraft carriers from long distances.

The latest generation of China's Dong Feng 21D (DF-21D) are considered to be super-carrier killers, as they have the capability to hit aircraft carriers 900 nautical miles away.

China has 11,200 miles of coastline to place its missiles and that fact coupled with the range and accuracy of the new missile could spell doom for any US or allied capability, according to American military strategists.

US has already deployed three aircraft carriers in China's vicinity to deal with any escalation of the military conflict between South and North Korea as well as to be hand in case any build up in the confrontation between China and Japan over the disputed islands.

US has also taken increased role in the maritime disputes involving China and host of South East Asian countries in South China seas.

Also recently the Chinese Defence Minister, Gen. Liang Guanglie, in a rare media interview said "China is preparing for military conflict in every strategic direction" and China would speed up military modernisation and development of equipment.

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China  PLA  Missile  
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