Nashua Nuke Threat Overblown
Report City Targeted by Chinese Missiles Called Suspicious
Nashua — Despite rumors circulating on the Internet that Nashua is in the crosshairs of the Chinese military, residents of the Gate City probably don’t need to worry about a nuclear strike anytime soon.
A graphic appearing on several English-language websites this week purports to reveal China’s nuclear targets in the United States.
The map shows bands of orange and red stretching from the West Coast to Chicago, supposedly depicting the fallout from a nuclear strike near Seattle. The map also contains 21 black dots arranged across the country, which some have interpreted to be China’s strategic targets.
One of those dots is centered in southern New Hampshire, in the area of Nashua.
While the map has been gaining attention on the Internet, Taylor Fravel, associate professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, believes the graphic was created by tabloid journalists and not the Chinese government.
Fravel, who specializes in China and its military, said he knew immediately when the graphic was published earlier this week that it should be taken with a grain of salt.
To begin with, it appears the person who made the map has little knowledge of U.S. geography, Fravel said, since the supposed targets include rural parts of New Hampshire and Vermont and avoiding population centers like Boston.
Another obvious clue that the map is suspicious is the fact that it was published by the Global Times, an English-language Chinese newspaper that Fravel said has a reputation of playing loose with the facts. While the paper has ties to the government, Fravel said the ruling party wouldn’t turn to the Global Times to release official communications, let alone a map of strategic targets.
“The state would not release anything through the Global Times,” Fravel said.
Fravel says tabloid journalism also played a role in helping the phony map begin to circulate in the United States. It appears that The Washington Times, the conservative newspaper founded in the 1980s by Rev. Sun Myung Moon and the Unification Church, was the first U.S. news outlet to feature the map in a story. While the Global Times report portrayed China’s nuclear strike capabilities as a new development, Fravel said China has actually possessed long-range missiles capable of striking the East Coast of the United States since the 1990s.
“I would say the numbers are pretty small ... We’re talking maybe 40,” he said.
On Friday, the website Drudge Report posted a link to the Washington Times story with the headline: “Chinese state media show plans for nuke strikes on U.S. cities... Damage projections for Seattle and Los Angeles.”
On the discussion forum northeastshooters.com, which caters to gun enthusiasts, one person was puzzled at why Nashua would be a target.
“(What) is in Nashua that makes it a nuke worthy target?” the commenter asked. “I mean, (Portsmouth Naval Shipyard) is a far more worthy nuke target. And no Boston? What are those Chinese thinking?”
Although the city is home to one of the country’s largest defense contractors – BAE Systems – Nashua’s other strategic advantages weren’t immediately apparent to the people who responded.
“Why destroy all that infrastructure when they don’t have to? They don’t want to destroy us, they want to own us,” wrote one person.
Another commenter from Massachusetts developed a different theory about the benefits of targeting Nashua: “To deprive us of cheap liquor and cigarettes.”