China says it has successfully conducted a midcourse missile interception test, a move that could advance its ability to withstand foreign intervention as it presses its territorial claims. A brief statement from the Defence Ministry late Sunday gave no details, but said the test was purely defensive in nature and was not aimed at any foreign nations.
Missiles are a major component of China’s defence and are the backbone of its space programme that has launched astronauts and components to the nation’s orbiting space station.
The interception test comes as China has been escalating threats against the self-governing island of Taiwan, which Beijing claims as its own territory to be annexed by military force if necessary. A conflict over Taiwan would likely bring in the US, which is the island’s main source of weaponry and is legally bound to regard threats to it as a matter of “grave concern”.
China is also engaged in territorial disputes with the Philippines, Vietnam and other governments over the South China Sea.
China is also seen as backing Russia in its invasion of Ukraine, although it has not provided material support to its actions.