China unveils Sky Thunder missile system amid tensions in South China Sea

WION New Delhi Aug 18, 2020, 09.02 PM(IST) Edited By: Palki Sharma

China's guided missile destroyer Guangzhou in South China Sea Photograph:( AFP )

Story highlights

The Chinese regime has been flaunting its naval might in disputed waters and adding new and lethal weapons to its arsenal with the 500 kg airborne missile system.

Taiwan got its highest-level visit by an American official since 1979 on August 9 as US health secretary Alex Azar landed in Taipei.

"This visit represents an acknowledgement of the United States and Taiwan's deep friendship and partnership across security, economics, healthcare and democratic, open, transparent values," Alex Azar, US health and human services secretary, said.

However, a few nautical miles away from the coast of Taiwan, the message was met with distaste in China as Chinese fighter jets took flight and breached the Taiwanese airspace in retaliation. It was the third Chinese incursion since 2016 and a reminder to Washington of the "One-China" policy.

Amid Alex Azar's visit, the activity of Chinese ships has increased in the South China Sea. The Chinese regime has been flaunting its naval might in disputed waters and adding new and lethal weapons to its arsenal with the 500 kg airborne missile system.

The Tianlei 500 or as the Chinese call it "Sky Thunder" is an effective tool for destroying multiple ground targets. It is designed and made by China's north industries group Norinco. 

It can carry up to 240 sub-munitions, small air-dropped weapons that can spread to over 6,000 square meters when dispersed. It can also target entire runways with aircraft on the tarmac, power facilities and armed personnel in large numbers.

However, China insists the lethal weapon is only aimed at securing peace and stability.

"The US move to stir up trouble in the South China Sea has only made China all the more determined to ride the waves, safeguard its sovereignty and security more resolutely and safeguard peace and stability in the South China Sea more firmly," Ren Guoqiang, Chinese ministry spokesman of national defence, said.

The power battle for control of the South China Sea has been heating up. On the one hand, there's China with its sweeping claims of sovereignty, on the other, America has begun militarising the disputed waters with Taiwan caught in the middle reeling under diplomatic and military threats from China.