China recently upgraded its subway system in Beijing and revealed that its mass transit was hardened to withstand nuclear blasts or chemical gas attacks in a future war, state-run media reported last month.
The disclosure of the military aspects of the underground rail system followed completion and opening of a new subway line in the Chinese capital Dec. 30, along with the extension of several other lines. The subway upgrade is part of an effort to ease gridlocked traffic in the city of 20 million people.
According to Chinese civil defense officials quoted Dec. 5 in the Global Times, a newspaper published by the Chinese Communist Party Central Committee, the subway can “withstand a nuclear or poison gas attack.”
A U.S. official said the disclosure of the subway’s capabilities to withstand attack is unusual since it highlights Beijing’s strategic nuclear modernization program, something normally kept secret from state-controlled media. The strategic nuclear buildup includes the expansion of offensive nuclear forces, missile defenses, and anti-satellite arms.
China is building new long-range mobile missiles, including the DF-41, and plans to deploy up to eight new ballistic missile submarines. Reports from Asia indicate the Chinese military is also planning to build new long-range strategic nuclear bombers.
Russia too is expanding its nuclear forces with new submarines and missiles. Moscow announced last year that it is also constructing some 5,000 underground bomb shelters in Russia’s capital in anticipation of a possible future nuclear conflict.
By contrast, the U.S. government has done little to bolster civil defense measures, preferring the largely outdated concept of mutual assured destruction that leaves populations vulnerable to attack and building only limited missile defenses that the Obama administration has said are not designed to counter Chinese or Russian nuclear strikes.
The Obama administration instead is seeking deep cuts in U.S. nuclear forces as part of President Barack Obama’s policy of seeking the elimination of all nuclear arms.
According to the Global Times report, the new subway lines were “designed to be used in the event of an emergency, for underground evacuation from one station to another, emergency shelter, and storage for emergency supplies.”
A military engineer identified only as Hu and as part of the Chinese military’s Second Artillery Corps, which builds and deploys China’s nuclear arsenal, helped design the civil defense aspects of the subway.
Special steel-reinforced gates installed on all subway tunnels and used to separate stations are one key feature of the reinforced subway. Hu said it is designed to protect people who seek shelter during a heavy storm, toxic gas attack, or a nuclear strike.
“The station has three hours of breathable air after the gates are closed, isolating the station from the outside world,” Hu was quoted as saying.
“Although each gate weighs around 7 tons, it takes just three minutes for two adults to open or close it manually,” she said.
The new blast gates were introduced into subway construction projects in 2007.
Full article: War Preparation Indicator — Beijing hardens subways for nuclear gas attacks (Washington Free Beacon)