Award fetes builder of ‘Steel Great Wall’

Un­der­ground fa­cil­i­ties aid nu­clear ca­pac­ity

Global Times - - FRONT PAGE - By Deng Xiaoci and Liu Xuanzun

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.

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 on Tues­day.

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 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 coun-

try’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 on Fri­day, 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.

Emerg­ing chal­lenges

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 re­cent 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.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from China

© PressReader. All rights reserved.