US-China missile race The United States says it's planning to build new missile defence in Asia. White House officials say early warning radar systems could be placed on a remote Japanese island and possibly in the Philippines. They say the proposed systems are in response to the development of new Chinese missiles, which the Pentagon says could be used to target the American Pacific Fleet. The US plans come in the wake of a diplomatic fall-out with Russia over similar systems in Eastern Europe. VOR's Tom Hedegard spoke to Alexander Neal, an Asia expert at the Royal United Services Institute, and asked him what the US is trying to achieve in the region. I think first and foremost the US as part of its rebalancing campaign in the Asia-Pacific region has viewed China's growing missile capabilities as a challenge to the current status-quo or at least the current domination of US sources in the Pacific region. Enhancing a ballistic missile defense Umbrella in the region allows the US to maintain the upper hand in many ways, but unfortunately because of China's proliferation of missile technologies, it's creating an arms race in the region. US policy makers would prefer China not to be spending so much money on these sophisticated weapons systems. And I'm sure many Chinese leaders would agree with that, but they say the People's Liberation Army has to face up to the possibility of contingency in the region and certainly the confrontation using ballistic missile technologies is at the full-front of their minds. You mention North Korea there as well. How much of this policy is designed towards containing the possible threat from North Korea? Ostensibly, the most serious threat in the region is from the North Korean regime. Whilst there've been friction between Japan and other countries over territorial issues, North Korea was the only country that aggressively attacked its rival in the South over the last two or three years. It's also actively developing nuclear missile program. And the US has armed both Japan and the Republic of Korea in a way to try to contain that. And most recently North Korea's intent was demonstrated by so-called satellite launch which had a trajectory through Japanese territory and East of Taiwan and of course that would annoy the Chinese as well. There're some analysts that claim that the US missile defense technology that they're proposing to install in Japan and possibly in Philippines is in fact no match for Chinese missiles. Do you agree with that statement? Ballistic missiles of Umbrella are largely untested if you look at the missile shield that's being discussed in Europe, for example. In many ways it's a sort of paper operation. But if you look at China's capabilities, in particular, anti-satellite technologies and anti-missile missiles, I think that's more of a concern for the US, - the ability for China to maintain a second strike capability by preventing the targeting of its own arsenals by missiles of any adversary. China's capability in space, the ability to intercept and destroy rivals' missiles and satellite infrastructure in space is where this new rivalry is moving and if the US maintains dominants in this arena, then it will be ok, but if it doesn't then you could look at the rules of the game changing in the region. And just moving back to the missile defense system in Russia that obviously involves quite a diplomatic spat between Washington and Moscow, - can the US really afford a similar problem with Beijing? I think the US has calculated that it can and it's willing to meet any challenge in the Pacific region, enhance a lot of the rhetoric we've been hearing from the Pentagon and elsewhere and from President Obama himself about a new shift in focus towards Pacific region. In a broader strategic sense, if you look at global capital heading to the Far East, currently growth is happening out in Asia, but it's in decline and in recession in Europe, for example. The US argument is that it has to protect its own growth and by enhancing its capabilities in the Pacific region that'll meet those expectations.