China denied, on Monday (18), that it had carried out the test of a hypersonic missile with a nuclear capability, as reported by the British newspaper Financial Times. According to Beijing diplomacy, what was launched was a space vehicle, not a missile.
According to the report published on Saturday (16), which has as sources five people familiar with the matter, in August China tested a hypersonic missile that circled the Earth before accelerating towards its target, demonstrating military capability that would have been taken by surprise US intelligence.
This type of weapon flies at five times the speed of sound and is maneuverable, making it harder to track. “It wasn’t a missile, it was a space vehicle,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said. During a press conference in Beijing, he said that what took place was a “routine test” aimed at evaluating ways to reuse the vehicle.
According to Zhao, reuse testing is important because it can “provide an inexpensive and convenient method for humans to travel peacefully to and from space.” Also according to the spokesman, this test took place in July, not August, as reported by the Financial Times.
The British newspaper said it had approached the Chinese embassy, which declined to comment on the test before the report was published. A spokesman, however, said that China had always pursued a military policy of a “defensive nature” and that its military development did not target any country.
“In contrast, the US in recent years has invented excuses like ‘the Chinese threat’ to justify its military expansion and the development of hypersonic weapons,” said Liu Pengyu. “This intensified the arms race in this category and severely undermined global strategic stability.”
On Sunday (17), the Global Times newspaper, aligned with the Chinese Communist Party and known for its often bellicose tone, published an editorial in which it claims that China is “closing the gap in relation to the US in some important military technologies”.
The text also denies that Beijing is in a war improvement dispute with Washington. “China does not need to engage in an ‘arms race’ with the US — it is able to undermine the overall US advantage over China by developing military power at its own pace.”
The newspaper associated with the regime’s hardliner also highlights Beijing’s superiority in sensitive areas like the Taiwan Straits and the South China Sea and accuses the US of spreading rumors about alleged Chinese nuclear strategies as possible justifications for increased spending military.
“Washington needs to be realistic and rethink their approach to China,” the editorial says, before suggesting that countries need to rebuild mutual trust. “Can’t great powers with different political systems cooperate to achieve a win-win outcome?”
In the wake of the supposed test of the Chinese hypersonic missile, the US announced, also on Sunday, that it would carry out a military exercise with Canada in the Taiwan Strait last week.
According to Washington, an American guided missile destroyer and a Canadian frigate passed through the region between mainland China and the island of Taiwan between Thursday (14) and Friday (15).
The announcement, as expected, has again heightened tensions with Beijing, which maintains its position of reconnecting Taiwan. For the regime, the island is a rebel province. In practice, however, it has administrative autonomy.