THREAD: Regarding such claim, we should of course exercise some caution and seek to ascertain its veracity. One way is PRC official publication of the circumstances of this test and outcomes, or Pentagon confirmation. Either way may not be forthcoming.…
1/: as an engineer by training, I’m aware there are practical limits to systems. It’s not as simple as launching a missile and expecting it to hit. A host of physical factors has to be accounted for. Even more complicated is having a ballistic missile hit a moving target.
2/: let’s assume the PLA has over the years honed its ISR capabilities focusing on the near seas, which is less ambitious compared to a global strike complex, there’s after all the possibility that the PLA manages to minimise the intervening physical factors to an accurate shot.
3/: we aren’t too sure how many times has the PLA validated the capability to ensure the ISR and kinetic systems work in a seamless integrated fashion, especially how mid-course targeting works in this scenario. And how many times this ASBM complex been tested on moving targets.
4/: the question is then, if the missile indeed hit the target, is it a fluke shot - though of course that still counts as a hit anyway to brandish as a colourful report card to domestic audience and the Americans? What’s the extent of damage?
5/: putting aside whether the confrontation did take place between the US mission in Geneva and the PRC side, the political context is also impt here. In the Wolf Warriors era, what are the chances of “missile missed target” being reported, when so much is at stake politically?
6/: Wang himself is also known to make some outlandish claims. Just earlier this year in a TV programme he claimed that should a cross-strait war erupt, Taiwan president Tsai Ing-Wen can easily be captured within a night. No context or supporting material to back this assessment.
7/: the PLA has every incentive, if pushed, to support Wang’s assertion, even if it’s not true. You may even argue that the Pentagon has reason to magnify this claim as well, if it means justification for more funding to acquire countervailing capabilities.
8/: conclusion: sans independent verification, and if we only have PRC and US info to utilise, there’s no way for sure to probe deeper into this claim, and all we are left is a black box of info, from which we can only speculate and keep guessing, and make certain assumptions.
9/: this black box thus contributes to the shaping of perceptions, and feeds into this security dilemma since either party has to, in the face of inadequate info, assume and prepare for the worst. Unfortunately this is how we got to this current stage and situation won’t improve.
10/: the reality now is that the enigma surrounding the ASBM contributes to strategic ambiguity and helps bolster PLA deterrence. Though of course, we can expect the US, not least the Navy, to remain unfazed and still persist in traversing the SCS just to make the point. END

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More from @CollinSLKoh

13 Nov
Generally I find RAND research outputs really insightful and useful. But sorry to say that this report is afflicted by certain stereotypes, and some wishful thinking about areas for future cooperation.…
THREAD 1/: As of this writing, Singapore’s economic performance is sluggish, and national elections in 2020 marked a
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an effort to boost its ties with Beijing (p.12)
2/: Since the upheavals in 2016, SG has already undertaken efforts to mend ties with Beijing, and recent moves represent a continuation, not a "boost" as asserted by the authors. It also implied the new-gen leadership is inclined towards policy shift. This is incorrect.
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24 Aug
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10 Jul
Just witnessed it myself after I fulfilled my citizenry rights: long queues with minimal enforcement of social distancing, disposable gloves dispensed with just to speed up the process. In summary, holding an election amidst a pandemic is simply careless and opportunistic.
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15 May 19
EVENT THREAD: International Maritime Security Conference (IMSC) 2019, jointly organised by the Republic of Singapore Navy, RSIS, and with support from Experia.
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21 Feb 19
THREAD: in the wake of the DW interview with Singapore defense minister Dr Ng Eng Hen there’s been some well-considered criticism amongst my foreign peers and colleagues about what he said. I want to offer my personal thoughts. See the said DW interview:…
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