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China Daily Website

Interception test a success

Updated: 2013-01-29 03:35
By Zhao Shengnan and Qin Zhongwei ( China Daily)

Analysts said China's latest midair missile interception test will help Beijing strengthen its air defense capability amid strained relations with some of its Asian neighbors.

The land-based test, which destroyed missiles in midair, was conducted on Sunday. It is the second such test that China has successfully launched within its territory since January 2010.

"The test has reached the preset goal," but it "is defensive in nature and targets no other country", Xinhua News Agency quoted an official from the Information Bureau of China's Ministry of National Defense as saying.

Meanwhile, the Associated Press reported on Sunday that the Pentagon successfully conducted a missile-interceptor rocket on a test flight on Saturday.

The US Missile Defense Agency said the Ground-Based Interceptor was launched in the central California coast on Saturday afternoon and performed a series of pre-planned maneuvers when it reached space.

It was the Pentagon's first flight test for the system since flight tests were halted after a failed intercept in a December 2010 test.

The two tests coincided with China's territorial rows with Japan over the Diaoyu Islands and with several Southeast Asian countries in the South China Sea as well as with Pyongyang's latest provocative language against the United States over the latest round of UN sanctions.

Experts hailed China's technological breakthrough because it is difficult to intercept ballistic missiles that have reached the highest point and speed in the middle of their course. Only a few countries, including the US, have successfully conducted such a test in the past decade.

Experts dismissed speculation that the test was targeted at any country, saying the prime function of the system is to build a shield for China's air defense by intercepting incoming warheads such as ballistic missiles.

Ever since the invention of nuclear weapons, every country has endeavored to develop an anti-missile system for self-protection, Song Xiaojun, a military affairs commentator, told China Central Television.

Although the missile used for the test on Sunday has not been identified, it is clear that China has overcome technological obstacles that have plagued the US for years, he said.

"In all, it (China's test) poses another major chop at the US ability to 'extend' deterrence to its Asian allies, adds another layer to China's 'anti-access' capabilities," Richard Fisher, a China military affairs specialist, told the Washington Free Beacon.

For global military powers, the most valuable trait of an anti-missile system is the deterrent effect, and it is also important to China, said Li Qinggong, deputy secretary-general of the national security policy commission of the China Association of Policy and Science.

"The system doesn't have actual combat capability for the time being," said Li.

Jin Canrong, a global affairs professor at Renmin University of China, said the test is necessary for Chinese military modernization.

The US and Japan agreed in September to put a second missile defense system in Japan to protect Tokyo from the threat of missile attacks, a move that has raised concerns in China.

Washington has been pushing uni-polarization after it withdrew from the US-Soviet Union Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty in 2002, Song said. "So once the multipolarization situation fully materializes, China's progress on the anti-missile system will also benefit global peace and stability."

Contact the writers at zhaoshengnan@chinadaily.com.cn and qinzhongwei@chinadaily.com.cn

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