China Missile Milestones – 1956-2008

1956: China’s Ministry of Defense creates Fifth Academy to develop ballistic missiles.

1964: China tests its first atomic bomb; first flight of the Dong Feng-2 medium-range missile.

1966: Combined test flight and detonation of a nuclear-armed DF-2 missile.

1970: First flight of Long March-1 space rocket; first flight of DF-4 medium-range missile.

1971: First flight of DF intercontinental ballistic missile; DF-3 missile first deployed. Both used as boosters for Long March rockets.

1975: First flight of Long March-2C space rocket.

1983: U.S. intelligence discovers China gave Pakistan tested nuclear bomb design.

1984: First flight of Long March-3 space rocket.

1988: China ships CSS-2 medium-range missiles to Saudi Arabia.

1991: U.S. sanctions China Precision Machinery Import-Export Corporation and China Great Wall Industry Corporation for selling missile technology to Pakistan.

1992: China joins the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT).

1993: China Aerospace Corporation succeeds Ministry of Aerospace Industry to oversee production of space rockets; sanctioned with nine other firms for selling missile technology to Pakistan.

1994: China promises to abide by the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) after the U.S. lifts sanctions.

December 1996: The Washington Times reports that in December 1996 Russia agreed to sell China two Sovremeny-class guided-missile destroyers armed with SS-N-22 high-speed anti-ship missiles.

March 1997: China increases its official military spending by 12.7 percent.

May 1997: The U.S. State Department confirms that China has sold “a number of C-802 ship-based anti-ship cruise missiles” to Iran.

July 1997: The National Air Intelligence Center (NAIC) reports that China is upgrading its medium-range missile force. This includes replacing liquid-fuel CSS-2 missiles with mobile solid-propellant CSS-5 Mod 1 missiles.

September 1997: According to an Israeli intelligence report, China Great Wall Industry Corporation and several Russian firms are helping Iran produce two missile systems based on North Korea’s Nodong missile.

January 1998: China’s Defense Minister, General Chi Haotian, promises U.S. Secretary of Defense William Cohen that China will not sell any more C-801 and C-802 anti-ship cruise missiles to Iran.

April 1998: China rejects an American proposal under which China would become a member of the Missile Technology Control Regime in return for greater access to American space technology.

May 1998: The Central Intelligence Agency (C.I.A.) reportedly believes that China has 13 of its 18 CSS-4 long-range strategic missiles pointed at U.S. cities.

July 1998: China reportedly tests a rocket motor for the DF-31 ballistic missile at the Wuzhai Space and Missile Test Center. The test occurs during President Clinton’s trip to China.

July 1998: It is reported that China produced six new CSS-4 ICBMs in the first four months of 1998 and is expected to build two more.

December 1998: The Washington Times reports that China recently delivered missile technology to Iran, including telemetry equipment that could be used in the testing of medium-range missiles such as Iran’s Shahab-3.

December 1998: A secret Pentagon report concludes that Hughes Space and Communications, without proper authorization, gave China vital technological assistance crucial to the successful launchings of Chinese ballistic missiles and satellites. The report concluded that Hughes provided a “defense service” to China that violated U.S. rules against helping Beijing make better rockets and missiles.

February 1999: The Pentagon reports to Congress that by 2005 China will have an overwhelming advantage over Taiwan due to an intense buildup of ballistic and cruise missile forces.

April 1999: It is reported that China is continuing to transfer missile technology to the Middle East and South Asia, and has provided North Korea with special steel used in missile building.

May 1999: It is reported that U.S. intelligence believes China will deploy the nuclear-capable 5,000 mile DF-31 ballistic missile within the next four years, and that it will be equipped with a warhead whose design uses secret American technology.

August 1999: China tests a new long-range surface-to-surface missile. Several days later, China confirms that the missile tested was a three-stage solid fuel DF-31.

August 1999: It is reported that China signed an $11 million deal to improve Iran’s FL-10 anti-ship cruise missiles. The short-range missiles will be modified so they can be fired from attack helicopters and fast patrol boats.

September 1999: It is reported that China North Industries Corporation (NORINCO) has developed a new long-range artillery system with a range of 360 kilometers, enough to target almost all of Taiwan from mainland China.

October 1999: In a military parade, China displays the DF-31 ICBM for the first time. It is displayed in its launch canister on a transporter-erector-launcher (TEL).

November 1999: U.S. intelligence reports that China is expanding a missile base at Yongan across from Taiwan. It is expected that the base will have a brigade of advanced CSS-7 (M-11) missiles.

December 1999: It is reported that the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) has discovered a second short-range missile base under construction near Taiwan. It is believed that the new base, Xianyou, will contain a force of short-range missiles that will allow China to target all of Taiwan’s major military bases.

February 2000: In a report to Congress, the CIA says Chinese firms have supplied missile-related items, materials and assistance to Iran. The report also states that China has given “extensive” support to Pakistan’s weapon of mass destruction and ballistic missile programs.

April 2000: It is reported that the National Security Agency (NSA) believes the China Precision Machinery Import-Export Company (CPMIEC) has been assisting Libya in the development of the Al-Fatah long-range missile.

May 2000: Sha Zukang, China’s chief arms negotiator, tells the New York Times that the proposed American missile defense system poses a threat to China and could force China to significantly expand its own nuclear forces in response.

July 2000: The New York Times reports that China has increased its shipment of specialty steels, guidance systems and technical expertise to Pakistan since May 1998. It also reports that Chinese experts have been sighted around Pakistan’s newest missile factory.

August 2000: A National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) warns President Clinton that building a national missile defense system for the United States could result in a buildup of China’s nuclear arsenal.

November 2000: The United States waives sanctions against Chinese companies that have made missile-technology transfers to Pakistan and Iran in return for a promise from Beijing that it will promulgate a list of missile-related items the export of which it would ban.

December 2000: The CIA reports that Chinese entities provided Pakistan with missile-related technical assistance during the last half of 2000.

2001: China illicitly receives six X-55 (KH-55) nuclear-capable cruise missiles from Ukraine.

September 2001: China Metallurgical Equipment Corporation (CMEC or MECC) is sanctioned for transferring missile technology to Pakistan’s National Development Complex. Because it is a state-owned company, certain sanctions apply to all missile-related activities of the Chinese government.

June 2002: The CIA reports that Chinese entities are continuing to provide missile-related technical and material assistance to Pakistan.

August 2002: China issues regulations on export control of missiles and missile-related items and technology.

November 2002: China signs agreement to acquire Harpy anti-radiation attack drones from Israel Aircraft Industries.

December 2002: China reportedly test-launches a medium-range DF-21 missile with multiple warheads.

May 2003: China North Industries Corporation (Norinco) is sanctioned by the United States, reportedly for selling missile technology to the Shahid Hemmat Industrial Group (in charge of Iran’s ballistic missile development).

July 2003: China Precision Machinery Import/Export Corporation (CPMIEC) is sanctioned by the United States for “missile technology proliferation activities.”

December 2003: The CIA reports that Chinese entities continue to work with Pakistan and Iran on ballistic missile-related projects. Companies in China also provide “dual-use missile-related items, raw materials, and/or assistance” to Libya and North Korea.

February 2004: Beijing holds its first round of talks with the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) to discuss China’s potential membership.

May 2004: China’s Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) announces that it has penalized two Chinese companies for violating the “Regulations of the People’s Republic of China on Export Control of Missiles and Missile-related Items and Technologies.” MOFCOM does not reveal the names of the companies, but reports that one is a trading company based in Jiangsu Province and the other a chemical company based in Shandong Province.

July 2004: China launches the first of its Type 094 nuclear submarines, which are designed to carry intercontinental ballistic missiles.

September 2004: China applies for membership in the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR).

September 2004: Xinshidai (China New Era Group) is sanctioned for “missile technology proliferation activities.”

June 2005: China reportedly test-launches a JL-2 submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) from a submarine at sea toward an inland test range.

July 2005: In a report to Congress, the U.S. Department of Defense estimates that China has 650-730 CSS-6 and CSS-7 short-range ballistic missiles and is adding to this arsenal at a rate of 75-120 missiles per year.

2005: Chinese entities continue to support ballistic missile programs in Pakistan, Iran, and North Korea, according to a CIA report.

2006: The DF-31 ICBM achieves “initial threat availability,” according to a U.S. Department of Defense report.

June 2006: The United States designates four Chinese companies that it asserts “supplied Iran’s military and Iranian proliferators with missile-related and dual-use components.” The firms designated are Beijing Alite Technologies Company, Ltd. (ALCO), LIMMT Economic and Trade Company, Ltd., China Great Wall Industry Corporation (CGWIC), and China National Precision Machinery Import/Export Corporation (CPMIEC). G.W. Aerospace, a Torrance, California-based U.S. subsidiary of CGWIC, is also identified.

January 2007: China successfully tests a direct-ascent anti-satellite (ASAT) missile, destroying a Chinese weather satellite.

November 2007: China has deployed between 990 and 1,070 CSS-6 and CSS-7 short-range ballistic missiles to garrisons opposite Taiwan, according to a U.S. Department of Defense estimate.

March 2008: The U.S. Department of Defense reports that China has begun deploying DF-31 and DF-31A intercontinental ballistic missiles to units within its Second Artillery Corps.

March 2008: The U.S. Department of Defense estimates that China has 50-250 DH-10 land attack cruise missiles.