The Chinese People’s Liberation Army traditionally reserves its most dramatic moves for a date early in the new year that has important symbolic meaning for China. “The Chinese have an obsession with what for them is Jan. 11,” says Owen Cote, Jr., a naval analyst at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In 2007, 2010 and again in 2011, the PLA tested new military capabilities on that date. Western experts expect another major weapons test on January 11, 2012…

What surprise might the PLA have in store for the coming year? “People have speculated that the long-awaited Anti-Ship Ballistic Missile test against a ship is coming in 2012,” Cote says. He’s referring to the DF-21D, a version of China’s Medium-Range Ballistic Missile optimized for destroying warships, particularly American aircraft carriers. In development for many years, the DF-21D has yet to be tested in realistic conditions. The missile apparently relies on satellites and aerial drones for targeting.