Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said Monday that China’s reported development of a nuclear-capable hypersonic missile would be “the biggest game-changer in the last 40 years,” if true.
“If in fact, the Chinese have developed a hypersonic missile that can deliver a nuclear weapon, it’s a military game-changer when it comes to nuclear forces,” Graham told Fox News’ Sean Hannity. “We’ve allowed the Chinese to leapfrog us and we’re going to have to do one of two things, get them to stand down, and I don’t know how Joe Biden convinces anybody to stand down.
“If they don’t stand down, we’re going to have to develop a capability to neutralize this and one-up China,” Graham added.
The Financial Times reported over the weekend that Beijing’s military launched a rocket in August that carried a hypersonic glide vehicle, which flew through low-orbit space. The weapon missed its target by approximately two dozen miles, but the report noted that the test showed the rapid progress China has made on such advanced weapons.
“We have no idea how they did this,” the FT report quoted one US intelligence official as saying.
“If it’s true that the Chinese Communist Party has leapfrogged us in terms of nuclear technology, then God help us all,” Graham said before rounding on the White House’s response to the reported test.
Press secretary Jen Psaki declined to comment on the report during her regular briefing earlier Monday, but said that the Biden administration had “made clear our concerns about the military capabilities that the [People’s Republic of China] continues to pursue.”
“We have been consistent in our approach with China: We welcome stiff competition, but we not — we do not want that competition to veer into conflict,” Psaki added. “And that is certainly what we convey privately as well.”
“You welcome the competition?” an incredulous Graham reacted. “You don’t say that. You tell China, ‘Stand down or you will regret this.’ And did he say ‘Stand down’? No. He says we welcome competition. No, we do not welcome the Chinese Communist Party with a hypersonic missile that can hit the American homeland and neutralize all of our defenses. I don’t welcome that.”
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin told reporters earlier Monday during a trip to Europe that “we watch closely China’s development of armament and advanced capabilities and systems that will only increase tensions in the region.”
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian, who has a history of false statements, denied that China tested a hypersonic missile, claiming instead that it was a “spacecraft.”