China said Tuesday that it successfully tested a mid-course anti-missile defense system within its own territory, a move that comes amid tensions over North Korea’s nuclear weapons program and China’s own military developments in the South and East China Seas.
The defense ministry said in a brief statement on its website that Monday’s test achieved its “preset goal”.
No details were given about the type of weapon tested, although China has been working on advancements to its standby HQ-9 anti-missile defense system. Mid-course interception involves destroying a ballistic missile while it is flying in space before re-entering the atmosphere.
The defense ministry said the test was “defensive and does not target any country”.
China is North Korea’s closest economic and diplomatic partner but has signed on to increasingly tough United Nations sanctions aimed at curbing Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons program. Despite that threat, it has adamantly opposed the deployment of an advanced US anti-missile system known as THAAD to South Korea, saying it would take countermeasures in response.
Beijing has also rapidly expanded its military presence on man-made islands in the South China Sea, which it claims in its entirety, despite countering claims from other nations. It has also repeatedly sent coast guard vessels into waters controlled by Japan around uninhabited islands in the East China Sea that China claims as its own.