China today conducted a successful exercise with a missile defense system incorporating "ground-based midcourse missile interception technology," Chinese state media reported (see GSN, Jan. 15, 2008).
"The test is defensive in nature and is not targeted at any country," the Xinhua News Agency reported, according to the Associated Press. Although the report contained no further details, China is suspected to be seeking defensive capabilities that could target stealth aircraft, cruise missiles and other enemy weapons.
The exercise came days after Washington finalized plans to deliver additional missile defense systems to Taiwan (see GSN, Jan. 7). While Taiwan has an autonomous government, Beijing claims the island-state as its territory and has threatened to use force should it pursue formal independence.
China has rapidly increased funds for modernizing its armed forces, and the nation's missile capabilities could eventually pose a challenge to the United States and other countries (Associated Press/New York Times, Jan. 11).