The decision to fire four ballistic missiles into the South China Sea on Aug. 26 was surely signed off on by the Central Military Commission, the Chinese military’s top decision-making body.
That committee is chaired by Xi Jinping, the country’s president and Chinese Communist Party’s general secretary.
The missiles fired by the People’s Liberation Army included those feared by the international community as “aircraft carrier killers,” capable of sinking the U.S.’s greatest warships, and the “Guam killer,” capable of reaching American military bases in the North Pacific.
The firings have escalated tensions. They have also ushered the China-U.S. confrontation into more dangerous territory, with the real possibility of accidental clashes.
One Asian intellectual familiar with Chinese politics noted that the missile launches came on the same day as another major political event.
“I feel uneasy,” the intellectual said. “It may give us a clue of what lies ahead in Chinese politics.”
Also on Aug. 26, Xi convened a meeting of 300 or so senior police and state security officials from across the country at Beijing’s Great Hall of the People.
In a pompous ceremony, Xi handed to the police force a newly designed red and blue flag.
The red portion, occupying the top half of the flag, symbolizes the party and is meant to portray the police’s absolute loyalty to the party, it was explained.
It was a highly symbolic move.