Russian President Vladimir Putin on October 3 spoke of helping "Chinese partners create a missile attack warning system" at the final plenary session of the 16th meeting of the Valdai International Discussion Club in Sochi, Russia. The "big secret" has drawn attention of international media due to not only the way Putin revealed it but also the context in which it was revealed.
Putin said the system is very important and "will drastically increase China's defense capability." Putin's words, which carry the weight of credibility, show Russian confidence in its military technology and strategic capability.
First, Russia has its own reliable anti-missile system and is experienced in dealing with missile threat posed by the US. Russian military has paid attention to missile defense system since the days of the Soviet Union and has deployed and upgraded the system for years.
Russia enjoys ideal geographical conditions to develop an anti-missile system. It is feasible for the country to assist its strategic partners develop a warning system and even a missile defense system.
Second, the cooperation that Putin was referring to is in line with China's need to increase its strategic capabilities. The missile attack warning system is an important part of an anti-missile system and nuclear counterattack capability
As China's missile striking capability, space surveillance technology and missile launch capability have increased, to integrate and perfect anti-missile defense system is a necessity for China.
More importantly, Putin's remarks amid tensions between China and the US showed the comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination for a new era between China and Russia. The remarks also reflected the fact that Beijing and Moscow have been deepening political trust and cooperation.
After withdrawing from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, the US has showed a clearer intent of strengthening its strategic containment of China and Russia. China-Russia cooperation on missile warning system is aimed to deal with the increasing threat by the US.
As the INF treaty has collapsed, the US would probably speed up its deployment of intermediate-range missiles in regions surrounding China and Russia, which makes it all the more necessary for the two countries to strengthen their missile defense capability.
China would need not only to forewarn intercontinental ballistic missiles coming from the other side of the Pacific Ocean but also to keep an eye on possible attacks by intermediate-range missiles. Such being the case, China needs a more sensitive missile attack warning system that can cover longer ranges and detect incoming missiles faster, so as to buy time for defense and retaliation.
The US is developing missile technology while simultaneously improving anti-missile defense. This is another reason for China and Russia to strengthen cooperation on missile attack warning system. In the meantime, Russia's concept and experience plus China's strategic input capability make it possible for the two countries' joint development and research to be better.
To coordinate with its Indo-Pacific Strategy, the US is sparing no effort at wooing allies and ratcheting up the trade war against China and economic sanctions on Russia. Washington is stepping up strategic competition.
The possibility that the US launches a new round of strategic operations to infringe on core national interests of China and Russia cannot be ruled out. Therefore, it is more urgent than before for Beijing and Moscow to be prepared. They need to establish reliable strategic deterrence capability and prevent the breakout of war. Meanwhile, the two countries should have a powerful voice and the will to express their strategic demand.
The author is a professor at the National Defense University of People's Liberation Army.