With the Chinese virus spreading around the globe and taking lives, the Chinese military felt it was a good time to threaten the U.S. with an EMP attack on our ships in the South China Sea. Chinese military officials on Tuesday floated the use of an electromagnetic attack on American warships that have ‘intruded’ into parts of the South China Sea during the past week.
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.
The US accused a Chinese destroyer of using lasers on February 17 on its patrol aircraft near Guam, even though it was the US aircraft that had initially conducted repeated close-in reconnaissance that interrupted the Chinese fleet’s normal navigation and training. This is a good example and could be applied more, Song said.
This is almost as dishonest a framing of the February laser incident, and others like it, as the Chinese fairy tale about a U.S. Army lab developing the coronavirus. The Chinese laser attack on a U.S. Navy aircraft flying over international waters on February 17 was unprovoked, unprofessional, unsafe, and a clear violation of both maritime law and safe-conduct policies for the region endorsed by Beijing.