" Dig tunnels deep,
store rice everywhere
never seek hegemony "
Underground Great Wall
Thousands of bomb shelters were built in the 1960s and 1970s to prepare for possible air raids from the Soviet Union. In Beijing most of the bomb shelters have been torn down to make way for the growing subway network. Others were rented out by the government, if they have a certain standard, which means electricity, water supply, and a proper ventilation.
The Northern Song Dynasty (960-1127 AD) battled for 200 years with the Liao and Jin Dynasties, which at the time were ruled by minority races from China's Northern Territories, the Khitan and Jurchens respectively. The Northern China Plain was an endless flat ground, with no mountains or rivers that could be used to help defend against the northerners.
In the summer of 1948, Yongqing village, Hebei province experienced a great flood that moved swiftly through the town. Villagers were running for their lives when a thunderous noise was heard. The course of the flood suddenly diverted and before long the level of the floodwater was much lower. Some time later in the northwest part of the village, curious villagers found that the floodwater had in fact been diverted by an underground passage.
Experts discovered that the Yongqing ancient war passages were widespread. They were in fact a large-scale construction used to house troops during times of war. The structures of the caves were complicated and complete, possessing military facilities such as camouflaged exits, covers, and locking gates. Facilities for housing people were also found, such as ventilation holes, lamp stands, and heatable brick beds.
It is believed that these ancient war passages were constructed as part of a large nation-wide project created and overseen at a national level by the governing authorities of the time. Experts have dug out similar war passages in Yongqing, Xiong county, and Bazhou. The ancient war passages are about 65 kilometers from east to west, 25 kilometers from north to south, which extend through 1,600 square kilometers.
The underground passages may have been used as base for launching attacks during wars fought in ancient China. As a means of defense throughout the years, people have built great walls in mountainous areas and water fields near rivers and lakes to block cavalries. However, in the open plains, where it is difficult to use the terrain as a means of defense, the tunnels would have allowed soldiers to travel unseen below the earth. The ancient war passages have became famous for the advantages they provide whether the troops are attacking or defending, and they have been named the "underground Great Wall."
The existence of a modern "Underground Great Wall" tunnel network has never been denied by China. It was first revealed on national television in 2006, apparently as a reaction to claims by some US experts, who said that China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) did not have credible “second strike” capability; i.e. the ability to survive a nuclear attack by another country with sufficient resources to deliver an effective counterblow. In December 2009, a report by Chinese state-run channel CCTV claimed that China had more than 3,000 miles of tunnels including deep underground facilities that could withstand several nuclear attacks. It even opened their underground facilities to journalists in order to publicize the achievements of the country in regards to reinforce the survival of its nuclear arsenal and, therefore, maintain the credibility of its deterrence.
"China National Defense News" wrote in relevant reports, "There are only white lights and always camouflage colors. Here is a certain missile position that the second artillery engineering unit is constructing. People often call it here." Underground Great Wall'". Then, the newspaper directly quoted foreign reports that there were Western experts who predicted that the Chinese Second Artillery missile position was very strong. "If a nuclear warhead is used to attack China's missile positions, it will require several hundred thousand tons of equivalent. The nuclear warhead hits the same point in a row to break through, but to completely destroy it, more nuclear warheads are needed.
A Hong Kong military expert said that this report appeared on the unsuccessful stage of the US-Russia second-stage strategic offensive weapons negotiations (START-II), which made the outside world pay more attention to the status quo of China's nuclear power.
In a signature article of Asia-Pacific Defense magazine, the situation of the underground position of the Second Artillery of China was also introduced. According to the article, China's early medium-range ballistic missiles were deployed in a permanent ground position, while the first intercontinental missile, Dongfeng-5, was deployed in a reinforced silo. When China began deploying the Dongfeng-5 missile in 1979, its total number of true and false silos was 24, but these protective measures were no longer effective in the face of increasingly sophisticated reconnaissance satellites and increasingly accurate anti-zone missile attacks.
If the reinforced silo does not ensure the safety of the missile, then the entire launch site is completely buried in the ground for hundreds of meters, which is clearly considered a viable option by the Second Artillery. "Asia-Pacific Defense" magazine said that as early as the summer of 1995, the " Liberal Army Daily " an inconspicuous news mentioned that tens of thousands of Second Artillery officers and men have finally completed a major national defense project after more than 10 years of bloody battles. On March 24, 2008, the "Military Documentary" program broadcast by China Central Television exposed part of the underground nuclear counterattack project, which was called "Great Wall Project" by the outside world.
On 02 January 2013, US President Barack Obama signed the new National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which ordered the Commander of the US Strategic Command (STRATCOM) to submit a report by August 15 on the “underground tunnel network used by the People’s Republic of China with respect to the capability of the United States to use conventional and nuclear forces to neutralize such tunnels and what is stored within such tunnels.” The US military will have to consider both conventional and nuclear capabilities to “neutralize” China’s underground nuclear weapons storage facilities, called “the Chinese Nuclear Great Wall” by US media, according to the new law.
The issue began to appear in US media when a group of students of the Georgetown University, under the supervision of their professor, former Pentagon official Phillip Karber, completed a 363-page study mapping out China’s huge system of underground tunnels, which allegedly stretches more than 3,000 miles and have been dug by China’s Second Artillery Corps, responsible for nuclear weapons. According to the study, these tunnels are used to hide advanced missiles and nuclear warheads. During the Cold War, Karber was a top strategist who reported directly to the Secretary of Defense and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He led an elite research team created by Henry Kissinger, who was then the national security adviser.
The controversy broke out due to the study’s claim that China might have up to 3,000 nuclear warheads, which sounded alarm bells in Pentagon. This figure is many times larger than arms control experts in the US intelligence estimate. These analysts have been consistently claiming that China have, at the most, 240-300 nuclear warheads in its arsenal, a much smaller number than the 5,000 warheads that the United States is said to have.
The strongest criticism came from experts who worry that the study could give arguments for fuelling another nuclear race in Asia and the world. The Post said that critics of the report have questioned the methodology of the Georgetown students, which included Google Earth, blogs, military journals and documents and even a fictionalized Chinese TV show. But the Post also said the students were able to obtain a 400-page manual produced by the Second Artillery Corps and only available to Chinese military personnel.
Gregory Kulacki, a China nuclear analyst at the Union of Concerned Scientists, publicly condemned the study at a lecture in Washington. In an interview with the Washington Post, he called the 3,000 figure “ridiculous” and said that the study’s methods were “incompetent and lazy.” “The fact that they are building tunnels could actually reinforce the exact opposite point,” he told the Post. “With more tunnels and a better chance of survivability, they may think they do not need as many warheads to strike back.”
Hans Kristensen, director of the Nuclear Information Project of the Federation of American Scientists, also viewed the study as erroneous. Kristensen said it has increased the danger of a war between China and the US. “The two countries are dancing a dangerous dance that will increase military tension and could potentially lead to a small Cold War in the Pacific,” defensenews.com quoted him as saying.
The influence of the Georgetown study can be seen in the new NDAA’s authorization to “use conventional and nuclear forces to neutralize tunnels and what is stored within such tunnels.” This provision worried experts because given the location, length and depth of the tunnel network, thousands of nuclear weapons could be needed to eliminate the threat. This doctrine would lead to the complete destruction of China and to a Chinese all-out nuclear counterattack against the US territory.
The study also became an argument supporting the new US strategy of refocusing military priorities towards the Asia-Pacific region. Most of the US Navy’s ballistic-missile submarine force was operating in the Pacific waters, new nuclear bomber squadrons were deployed to Guam and more naval forces are being sent to the region. These were only examples of the aggressive stance taken by the US, particularly under the Obama administration, towards China. Washington’s strengthening of alliances and partnerships throughout the Asia region and its naval build-up in the Pacific Ocean, threaten to encircle China.
Despite the criticism, some officials in the Pentagon have welcomed the study because it contributes to present China as a growing threat to the United States. The Second Artillery Corps’s work on the network of tunnels was mentioned, for the first time, in the Defense Department’s annual report in 2013, partly as a result of Karber’s study, according to some Pentagon officials.
China's "Underground Steel Great Wall" could "guarantee the security of the country's strategic arsenal" against potential attacks, including those from future hypersonic weapons, Qian Qihu, recipient of the country's highest science and technology award, told the Global Times 13 January 2019. Qian, 82, an academician of both the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the Chinese Academy of Engineering, received the 2018 State Preeminent Science and Technology Award during a conference at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.
The "Underground Steel Great Wall" is a series of defense facilities located deep under mountains. While the mountain rock is thick enough to resist enemy attacks, entrances and exits of these facilities are often vulnerable and Qian's work was to provide extra protection for these parts. China's declaratory nuclear strategy follows the principle of "no first use" and requires the country to have the capability of withstanding a nuclear attack before it responds with its strategic weapons. Qian's work guaranteed the safety of the country's strategic weapons, launch and storage facilities as well as commanders' safety during extreme times, said Song Zhongping, a military expert and TV commentator.
In an exclusive interview with the Global Times, Qian describes his work, the "Underground Steel Great Wall," as the "country's last national defense line." If other lines of defense including the strategic missile interception system, anti-missile system and air defense system fail to function against hypersonic missiles and recently developed bunker-busters, Qian's work can still thwart such attacks. "The development of the shield must closely follow the development of spears. Our defense engineering has evolved in a timely manner as attack weapons pose new challenges," Qian said.
According to the academician, hypersonic weapons that move 10 times as fast as the speed of sound are capable of changing trajectory mid-flight and penetrate any anti-missile installations. US media outlet CNBC reported that in March 2018 during a State of the Nation address, Russian President Vladimir Putin debuted new nuclear and hypersonic weapons, which he described as "invincible." The US is also trying to develop hypersonic weapons, as then US Deputy Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan, now acting secretary of defense, said in October. "We are going to fly sooner and more often than people have ever expected," CNBC reported.
National defense challenges do not only emerge from the development of advanced attack weapons but are also a result of an unpredictable international environment, Qian said. He cited the US stance whereby the Donald Trump administration is mulling lowering the threshold for nuclear weapons deployment. The US is planning to loosen US nuclear weapons constraints and developing low-yield nuclear warheads, the Wall Street Journal reported in January 2018. It is highly possible that US weapons with low-yield nuclear warheads are bunker-busters, with a higher surgical strike capability that may cause larger damage, military experts previously noted, warning that China should stay alert and upgrade its own national defense.
Qian has also provided advice on civilian construction projects, including the Nanjing Yangtze River Tunnel, the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge and the giant South-to-North Water Transfer Project, according to a China Global Television Network report. Asked how he would spend the 8 million yuan cash award, Qian said that part would go to research on national defense, and the rest used for social welfare projects such as fighting poverty and supporting poor students. "I have never had a thought of earning any prize money for my research, nor would I think it came too late," Qian said. "I am only grateful that national recognition offers a great opportunity to raise the public's national defense awareness."
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