China Conducts Anti-Missile Test
Image Credit: Wikicommons

China Conducts Anti-Missile Test


Reports from various news outlets over the last day or so note China has "again carried out a land-based mid-course missile interception test within its territory Sunday."

Xinhua in its report explained "The test has reached the preset goal" citing an official from the Information Bureau of China's Defense Ministry.

"The test is defensive in nature and targets no other country," explained the ministry official.

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This would mark the second instance that China has announced such a test. A similar anti-missile test was successfully attempted in Jan 2010.

Global Times noted the test was completed "hours after the U.S. conducted a test flight of its own missile interceptor."

Lan Yun, a military observer and editor with Modern Ships magazine, told the Global Times that "China is still far from forming an operational anti-missile shield, as the U.S. has carried out at least 16 interception tests and China has only done two so far. Even the U.S. GMD (Ground-Based Mid-course Defense) is far from mature."

I spoke today to frequent Diplomat contributor and friend Dr. Andrew Erickson of the U.S. Naval War College to get his thoughts on the test and American missile defense in general:

"Chinese policy makers are clearly pursuing significant ballistic missile defense (BMD) capability, and should recognize that continued U.S. efforts in this area represent an unavoidable example of a great power's safeguarding its security amid a substantial, growing range of foreign missile threats. To the extent that they are unwilling to expend political capital and prioritize strategic interests sufficiently to counteract their pariah ally North Korea's increasingly provocative ballistic missile and nuclear weapons development, testing, and posturing, they must accept that Pyongyang's behavior is a key factor driving U.S. BMD development and deployment. U.S. policy makers, for their part, must recognize that BMD is not a panacea, and does not operate in a strategic vacuum. It is expensive, incomplete in coverage, and encourages rather than dissuades Chinese improvement of strategic nuclear and ballistic missile forces. While useful for other purposes–particularly containing potential damage from provocative behavior by pariah states developing ballistic missiles of limited capability such as North Korea and Iran–BMD cannot be used to deny top-tier missile power China's secure second-strike, a capability that Beijing is determined, and increasingly able, to achieve."

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