China Successfully Tests First Missile Interceptor
Three years after launching its first anti-satellite weapon system, China on Tuesday in Beijing, claimed that it has successfully tested a new technology designed to shoot down incoming missiles in mid-air, a strategic know-how possessed by only the US and Russia so far.
"China conducted a test on ground-based midcourse missile interception technology within its territory. The test has achieved the expected objective," the official Xinhua news agency reported on yesterday's test-launch.
"The test is defensive in nature and is not targeted at any country," it said in a brief statement.
The announcement comes after a week of diplomatic tensions over a US decision to sell advanced Patriot anti- missile systems to Taiwan, which Beijing considers as part of its territory and has vowed to take the island back, by force if necessary.
Commenting on the missile interception test, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said it was conducted in accordance with China's "defensive military strategy."
"The test was defensive in nature and targeted at no country," she said.
So far, the elite club of the United States and Russia only had the missile interception technologies.
Jiang said China had always taken the road of peaceful development and its strengthening of national defence was for the maintenance of national sovereignty and security.
The test would neither produce space debris in orbit nor pose a threat to the safety of orbiting spacecraft, Jiang said.
China had successfully tested its anti-satellite system on January 11, 2007, drawing sharp reaction from the West.
Meanwhile, military experts, quoted by the state-run Global Times newspaper, claimed the test was a breakthrough in the air defence capabilities of China's military.
Yang Chengjun, a senior military strategist of missile studies, said that the test ushered China into a new phase in terms of missile interception technologies.
"China needs an improved capability and more means of military defence as the country faces increasing security threats," Yang said, adding that it is China's legitimate right to carry out such tests.
"Compared with a previous test of anti-satellite technologies, the missile interception system is more advanced as the targets are moving objects and the satellite was flying within a pre-planned orbit," Yang said.
Yang said China should display its determination and strength in national defence and the capability to safeguard its core interests on appropriate occasions.
Jin Canrong, a deputy director of the School of International Studies at Renmin University of China, said the development of missile interception technologies is a step further on the country's course to military modernisation.
"China has been pursuing a defence strategy. The missile interception system will not alter such a discipline, but strengthens the national defence strategy," Jin said.
The Chinese missile test followed the Obama administration's approval last week to sell PAC-3, an upgraded Patriot air-defence missile system, to Taiwan. The PAC-3 can shoot down Chinese short-range missiles. PTI