As U.S.-China tensions flare up, China has played a considerable part in the Pentagon documents that leaked online recently and caused a worldwide stir. Massachusetts Air National Guardsman Jack Teixeira posted the secret military documents. The documents revealed on April 14 that China successfully tested a new missile named DF-27, a hypersonic intermediate-range ballistic missile, in the Dongfeng series on February 28. The report said Dongfeng-series missiles “possess a high probability of penetrating U.S.” ballistic missile defenses and are designed to enhance the ability to hold targets at risk beyond the Second Island Chain. Another entry in the document shows the People’s Liberation Army Navy’s recent deployment and use of its new helicopter-carrying assault ship, Yushen LHA-31. Experts say that expanding into hypersonic missile technology and other advanced fields has raised fears of Chinese territorial expansion and assertiveness over the South China Sea.
China has long been known for spending highly on its military, but the latest development comes at a time when U.S.-China relations have reached their lowest point. The contentious Pentagon leaks reveal that the U.S. intelligence community had assessed China as “probably developing cyber attack capabilities to deny, exploit and hijack” Western satellite links and networks and potentially seize control of a satellite. The Defense Department has previously discussed China’s efforts to attack U.S. satellites publicly but has not described them as hijacking attempts. Documents also show that the U.S. is gathering information about how countries interact with China using signals intelligence.
Another paragraph in the leaked documents shows that the Department of Defense’s supply chain is being threatened because of the Chinese state-owned surveillance equipment manufacturer Hikvision disguising its products banned in the U.S. through its resellers to government suppliers.
China aggressively building its defensive prowess is also contributing to rising fears about the safety of Taiwan. The Washington Post reported on April 15 that the leaked documents revealed the critical weakness of Taiwanese military and air defense as Taiwan officials question their ability to “accurately detect missile launches” from China. Records show U.S. officials questioning Taiwan’s military preparedness if China were to attack. U.S. analysts found that only half of Taiwan’s aircraft would be “fully mission capable” in the event of a Chinese attack.
Chinese spokesperson Wang Wenbin responded to the contentious Pentagon document leaks at a press briefing on April 12, ”U.S. is conducting indiscriminate, secret monitoring of other countries, including its allies. The United States should explain this to the international community.” On a diplomatic mission to Vietnam, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken commented on the issue on April 15, saying that the leaks had not hampered cooperation between the U.S. and its global allies and partners. He further said, “We have engaged with our allies and partners since these leaks came out, and we have done so at high levels, and we have made clear our commitment to safeguarding intelligence and our commitment to our security partnerships.”
Teixeira, who leaked the secret U.S. official documents online, is a low-level Air National Guard information technology specialist and got arrested on April 13 by federal agents. He posted hundreds of classified documents consisting of sensitive military topics to a Discord channel with 20 to 30 members. The social media site, also popular among video game players, is cooperating with the investigation. Discord chief legal officer Clint Smith said on April 14, “This recent incident fundamentally represents a misuse of our platform and a violation of our platform rules.”