China’s Second Artillery Has a New Missile
Image Credit: Wikicommons

China’s Second Artillery Has a New Missile


China’s missile buildup across the Taiwan Strait appears to be continuing apace, with reports appearing in Chinese media late last week that the Second Artillery Corps is now equipped with high-precision Dong Feng-12 (DF-12) short-range ballistic missiles (SRBM).

According to online reports and photographs (which includes official Chinese publications), the DF-12 is a re-designation of the M20 tactical SRBM, which China first unveiled at the International Defense Exhibition (IDEX) in Abu Dhabi in February 2011. The re-designation would confirm that the M20 is now fielded with the Second Artillery Corps, which operates China’s strategic nuclear forces and missile arsenal.

Analysts in 2011 pointed out that the M20 bore a striking resemblance to the Russian-made 9K720 Iskander (SS-26 Stone). While contemporary sources said they were unaware of China purchasing the Iskander directly from Russia, they pointed to the high likelihood that the technology was acquired via Ukraine or Belarus.

The single-stage solid propellant Iskander was developed in the late stages of the Cold War and entered Russian military service in 2006. The Iskander-M, intended for Russian forces, has a range of 400km, while that of the Iskander-E was established at 280km. Last week’s reports also set the range for the DF-12 at 280km.

Like the Iskander, the M20/DF-12 reportedly has built-in countermeasures, including terminal maneuverability, against theatre missile defense systems such as the U.S.’ Patriot PAC-2/3, which is deployed in Taiwan to protect major urban centers, and Taiwan’s indigenous Tien Kung II. It is said to be very accurate and reportedly relies on inertial navigation and global positioning system guidance, presumably China’s Beidou.

The missile carries an 880lb warhead and can deliver cluster, high explosive fragmentation, penetration and high explosive incendiary warheads. The transporter-erector-launcher (TEL) vehicle carries two missiles.

The Taiwanese military and the U.S. Department of Defense believe China has more than 1,600 missiles aimed at Taiwan. At present, the bulk of the Second Artillery threat against the island relies on the DF-11 SRBM, which is augmented by the DF-15 and DF-16 medium-range ballistic missile (MRBM) introduced in recent years. The addition of the DF-12 will add yet another layer of land-based missile systems targeting Taiwan and will further complicate its air-defense efforts while underscoring efforts to centralize command-and-control of China’s missile forces for greater effectiveness.

The Taiwan Strait is 230 km at its widest and as little as 130 km at its narrowest. 

September 5, 2013 at 05:28

Are you kidding? Please make a research.. china is the current worlds largest agriculture producing nation in the world.

That is the common mis conception by a lot of my countrymen in the philippines… that china will need the world for food.

August 11, 2013 at 09:30

the fact is japan is nice to everyone except china and treats chinese tourist very politely.

japan has no choice, with out the rest of the world , they have no food

china has 20 percent of the people on earth and 9 percent of the land, one day they will depend on everyone else for food also, which means they have to be nice to people and not bully neighbors anymore,

they are really going to hate that, its much easier to be an ostrich with your head in the sand and say we need consensus and dialogue and say "maybe" all the time.

now they will have to say "yes" or "no" and make real decisions, china has nothing to gain from taiwan but more mouths to feed.

as an american conservative living in china, i cant say anything good about china, but i left when america voted for an economic illiterate for president and surprisingly i make more money in china than america and pay less taxes, the invisible hand of self interest.

August 9, 2013 at 12:09

It's "Made in China" that's all we need to know that it's total crapola.

Sun Yat-Sen
August 9, 2013 at 00:02

Haha.. as a Taiwanese i can say this article is very one sided opinion. Not even close to what is in reality.

Come here to Taiwan. And you'll see the fact that Taiwan and mainland China is already like a married couple.

US is jealous so badly wants Taiwan to cut tie with mainland China.

Sorry US, but you cannot cointain China.

August 8, 2013 at 09:02

Multiple choice:

What's the difference between Mainland Chinese and Kuomintang Chinese?

a)No difference.

b) Same.

c)No difference, they're the same.

Uncle Sams
August 8, 2013 at 00:13

It would be pretty much ignorant if you still don't know that the relationship between China (PROC) and Taiwan (ROC) is the best ever since 1949. This article must be a joke by assuming these missiles are for Taiwan.  

August 7, 2013 at 22:55

China’s strategy is all about intimidation against its smaller neighbors. While China builds up its forces, its neighbors are trapped in this so-called “security guarantee” from the Americans. The best way to negate China’s capacity to intimidate is to also have nuclear missiles pointed at it. Japan can certainly do this but it is being held back. I don’t see China threatening the US or Russia both of which have the capacity to destroy it in minutes. While China has border disputes with India, it is only a matter of time before India attains credible deterence.

This leaves China to focus on its smaller neighbors. I think that China should continue to embrace the presence of The Americans. The Americans keep China’s neighbors from arming &as long as the Americans are left alone, China can continue doing what it is doing today which is build up its military &intimidate its neighbors.

August 7, 2013 at 22:30

If China followed the law to the letter they would disregard lawful constructs like trademarks borders.

Grand Voyageur
August 7, 2013 at 18:22

Taiwan's own problem with China’s massive missile buildup across the Strait IMHO could be only addressed with high-energy laser weapon systems coupled with some sort of up-to-date AEGIS-like battle management system with a "full auto" capability.

Oro Invictus
August 7, 2013 at 15:59


Oh great, another passive-aggressive person who attempts to slander me by writing by username as “Oro Invectus”. It’s as sophomoric as it is self-defeating; I realize Google Translate is fun and all, but you shouldn’t rely on it for accurate translations. While I’m guessing people are attempting to say “Attacking Voice” or some such (invectus can be used to mean “attack”), when used with Oro prior to it, the translation becomes “Voice Overwhelming”, “Conquering Voice”, or “Ushering Voice”. Given none of these have particularly negative connotations (indeed, quite the opposite), and I really doubt you were attempting to give me praise, you probably should rethink your attempts to impugn me (if not already by said virtue of it being passive-aggressive slander).

In any case, I’ve commented on that ridiculous “Anti-Secession Law” many times already, so I am quite aware of it. What I am not aware of is that the CPC rigidly follows the rule of law, especially when doing so would prove cataclysmic to their own interests; indeed, isn’t the PRC state media making the point right now that such constitutionalism is “wrong” and should not be followed?

August 7, 2013 at 13:42

If China attacks Taiwan and controls it, the democracy 'virus' (as CCP may call it) will spread in China and that will be the end of CCP rule. These are only bargaining measures. If Taiwan stands firm, nothing will happen.

August 7, 2013 at 11:35

Oro invectus I don't know which planet are you living right now . You seem never heard of Anti secessionist law It is clearly written in the law.  In case of Taiwan declaring independent it will be war! American intervention or not . It is the law of the land . And if the communist doesn't declare the war they will be overthrown by the people

Article 8  In the event that the "Taiwan independence" secessionist forces should act under any name or by any means to cause the fact of Taiwan's secession from China, or that major incidents entailing Taiwan's secession from China should occur, or that possibilities for a peaceful reunification should be completely exhausted, the state shall employ non-peaceful means and other necessary measures to protect China's sovereignty and territorial integrity.
The State Council and the Central Military Commission shall decide on and execute the non-peaceful means and other necessary measures as provided for in the preceding paragraph and shall promptly report to the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress.

August 7, 2013 at 04:18

I'm sure the Chinese on Taiwan really appreciate the Chinese on the motherland pointing 1600 to 2000 offensive missiles at the tiny island!

No wonder everybody in the international community laughed at Hu Jintao's "peaceful & harmonious" rhetoric of not long ago!

Then again, Xi Jinping's latest rhetoric "China is Friends to All" campaign is being met with more laughter  than what Hu Jintao's "peaceful & harmonious" campaign could!

I mean, it's like saying the Chinese are going to build 50 Confucius Institutes each in Japan and the Philippines, as if that's going to help the CCP win over those people to China's point of view regarding the Senkaku islands or Scarborough Shoal!

Oro Invictus
August 7, 2013 at 03:04

Not only is this continuous threat of missile strikes against Taiwan childish, it’s a self-defeating endeavour. Even if no one comes to Taiwan’s aid and even if Taiwan makes no effort to defend itself, any missile from the PRC which strikes Taiwan will cause a hundred-fold more damage to the PRC. It’s simply that, instead of blood and fire, the recompense will be extracted via international diplomatic and economic sanction, not to mention the boundless antipathy of those within Taiwan (and the PRC itself).

While the Taiwanese should still make every effort to ensure they can mitigate the possible damages by such an attack and defend themselves, they should also realize that, barring some massive crisis/misstep in the PRC, the purpose of these missiles is primarily a coercive measure; the fact of the matter is, if the Taiwanese declared independence tomorrow, the CPC wouldn’t be able to do a single thing to stop them (via direct martial action, at least). It doesn’t matter how much the tides of nationalism rise or how much various government and military elements bray, the CPC is not suicidal; while ignoring calls by hawkish/nationalist individuals of the PRC may threaten CPC rule, engaging in military action would almost certainly end them (or at least harm them to a far greater extent than otherwise).  

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