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Asia-Pacific
China tests interceptor missile
News of test comes on heels of Beijing's objections over US missile sales to Taiwan.
Last Modified: 12 Jan 2010 04:18 GMT
Beijing has consistently emphasised the defensive nature of its armed forces [EPA]

China has successfully tested its advanced air defence capabilities, intercepting a missile in mid-flight within its territory, state media reported.

"The test has achieved the expected objective," the official Xinhua news agency quoted the foreign ministry as saying on Tuesday.

The report on the "ground-based mid-course missile interception technology" comes amid tensions over US arms sales to Taiwan.

Last week the US cleared a sale of advanced Patriot air defence missiles to Taiwan despite opposition from Beijing, a move which could chill ties at a time when China and the US are also wary about trade disputes and economic strains.

Shi Yinhong, a Chinese expert on US-Sino ties from Renmin University of China, told Al Jazeera that there was "a connection" between the missile interceptor test and the US-Taiwan arms sales.

He said China's missile tests were an "indirect reaction" to the weapons sales, noting that it was difficult for Beijing to take direct action against the US.

Damage to ties

A commentary from Xinhua on Monday warned of broader fallout from the Patriot missile deal, which a US official in Taipei said was part of a package passed by the US congress more than a year ago.

"Each time the United States has sold weapons to Taiwan, there has been huge damage to China-US relations," said the commentary issued separately from the report on the anti-missile test.

"We must use counter-measures to make the other side pay a corresponding price and suffer corresponding punishment"

Major-General Jin Yinan, 
People's Liberation Army

"This US arms sale to Taiwan will be no exception."
 
China has claimed sovereignty over self-ruled Taiwan since 1949, when communist forces won the Chinese civil war and fleeing nationalists gained control of the island.

Beijing has since vowed to bring Taiwan under its rule, by force if necessary, and opposes US arms sales to the island as an intrusion into what it calls a domestic dispute.

China's defence ministry warned over the weekend that it reserved the right to take unspecified action if the US followed through with the sale, which it called a "severe obstacle" to China-US military ties.

Senior officials in the Chinese People's Liberation Army have urged Beijing to punish the US government and firms for arms deals with the disputed island.

"We have the power and ability to adopt counter-measures [against US arms sales to Taiwan]," Major-General Jin Yinan, a professor at China's National Defence University, wrote in the Study Times, a China newspaper, earlier this month.

"We must use counter-measures to make the other side pay a corresponding price and suffer corresponding punishment."

The Global Times quoted senior military strategist Yang Chengjun as saying that the test had "ushered China into a new phase in terms of missile interception technologies".

"China needs an improved capability and more means of military defence as the country faces increasing security threats," Yang was quoted as saying.

But China's foreign ministry was quick to add that "the [missile interceptor] test is defensive in nature and is not targeted at any country".

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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