The Chinese communist People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Air Force released a video this weekend advertising the power of the nation’s H-6K bomber aircraft by bombing what appeared to be a U.S. military base on Guam.
While the video does not identify the target, experts noted the footage appears to show locations resembling Andersen Air Force Base on the American Pacific island. The Hong Kong newspaper Apple Daily reported that, shortly after English-language outlets began noticing the video, the PLA appears to have replaced it with a modified version that does not show the most dramatic apparent bombing of the American military asset, though still showing evidence that Beijing is targeting Guam.
The video follows a tense week of military signaling between Beijing and the sovereign republic of Taiwan, where a senior State Department officials — Under Secretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy, and the Environment Keith Krach — visited to pay homage to Taiwan’s first democratic leader, Lee Teng-hui. Washington does not recognize Taiwan’s sovereignty but does maintain unofficial diplomatic ties to the island and sells Taipei sophisticated military weaponry, outraging Beijing. The Communist Party considers Taiwan a province of China despite never having political control over the island in history.
A PLA threat on the United States, if the video was meant as such, also follows months of the Chinese Foreign Ministry raising unsubstantiated suspicions that the U.S. Army is responsible for the Chinese coronavirus pandemic. “It might be the U.S. army who brought the epidemic to Wuhan,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian speculated in March, initiating a series of demands from Beijing that America tell the “truth” about this claim without providing any evidence for it.
The PLA published the video on Saturday on both its WeChat and Weibo social media accounts (the media are two of the few legal social platforms under the Communist Party). The PLA titled the video “The God of War H-6K Goes on the Attack!”
The two-minute propaganda piece, shot to simulate Hollywood action movies, shows various close-up images of the bomber taking flight set to dramatic music. The plane appears to fly over rural China before its pilot fires a missile that destroys a coastal airbase, which it does not identify. The video concludes with slow-motion shots of Chinese pilots, clearly emulating the aesthetic of the American Top Gun films.
“We are the defenders of the motherland’s aerial security; we have the confidence and ability to always defend the security of the motherland’s skies,” the social media description of the video reportedly read.
The American military publication Stars and Stripes noted that astute observers identified some of the images in the video as originating in Hollywood films such as The Rock and the Transformers series.
“The clip of the missile speeding toward an island matches an opening scene in Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen,” the outlet detailed. “The ensuing explosion matches that from the ending of the 1996 Nicholas [sic] Cage movie, The Rock.”
The more offensive images from the video appear to show, multiple experts agreed, a satellite image of the U.S. Army base in Guam with bomb fire and smoke superimposed over it. Apple Daily claimed that a Chinese propaganda video destroying an American military property was unprecedented. As the easternmost point in America, however, Guam has aroused interest from other rogue states in the region, primarily North Korea. The Chinese-allied regime in Pyongyang has repeatedly threatened to use nuclear weapons to destroy Guam. Prior to multiple meetings between dictator Kim Jong-un and U.S. President Donald Trump, North Korea also published aesthetically similar military propaganda videos threatening to attack strategic American assets. North Korean propaganda videos have depicted nuclear attacks on Washington, D.C.; New York, and San Francisco, among other areas.
Research into China’s H-6K bomber, an adaptation of an old Soviet model, by the Center for Security and International Studies’ Asia Maritime Initiative suggests that it indeed can reach Guam if necessary.
“H-6K bombers can carry both air-to-surface missiles and cruise missiles with a combat radius of 3,500km,” Apple Daily detailed. “It has frequently appeared above the Taiwan Strait, the South China Sea and West Pacific Ocean in recent months as the strongest offensive weapon in China’s deterrence strategy.”
Following the publication of the video, on Sunday, China’s state-run Global Times publication boasted of the PLA conducting nearly 40 sorties in the Taiwan Straits during Krach’s visit to intimidate Washington out of maintaining ties to Taiwan.
“Two H-6 bombers, eight J-16 fighters, four J-10 fighters and four J-11 fighters on Friday, and 12 J-16 fighters, two J-10 fighters, two J-11 fighters, two H-6 bombers and one Y-8 anti-submarine warfare aircraft on Saturday crossed the ‘middle line’ of the Taiwan Straits,” the Global Times reported.
The propaganda outlet described the military activity as “a rehearsal for a Taiwan takeover.”
In another article, the Global Times targeted America specifically, urging, “what Beijing should consider now is how to counter the U.S.”
“Washington has violated the related rules and regulations enacted in its acts and communiqués regarding arms sales to the island of Taiwan for a long time. As early as in 1992, US F-16 warplanes, which the US sold to Taiwan, are also offensive weapons,” the regime mouthpiece claimed.