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January 15, 2010

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China's defensive capability shown

A WEAPONS expert with the Chinese People's Liberation Army has said that the successful anti-missile interception test by China on Monday showed the nation's strength to defend its territory while its announcement displayed the country's military transparency.

"The weapon tested was an indigenous surface-to-air defense missile," said Professor Tan Kaijia, who specializes in research on sophisticated worldwide weapon systems.

"This is China's first announcement that we have the ground-based midcourse anti-missile technology."

Although the expert declined to give more details of the anti-missile interception test, he said it was a routine test before the new air defense weapon became standard PLA equipment.

"If the ballistic missile is regarded as a spear, now we have succeeded in building a shield for self-defense," Tan said.

China declared the anti-missile test late on Monday. Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu on Tuesday told foreign journalists that the test within China's territory neither left space debris nor posed a threat to the safety of orbiting spacecraft.

"The test was conducted within China's territory, so the missile that intercepted the incoming target would not fly or fall into another country's territory," Tan said.

China had no obligation to declare the missile test, but doing so revealed that the military was becoming more transparent, he said.

According to Tan, midcourse defense systems could intercept hostile ballistic missiles with nuclear warheads hundreds of kilometers above the ground.

The United States has conducted a number of anti-missile intercept tests since 1999. China is one of the few other countries that has mastered the technology.

"The success of Monday's test sets a milestone in China's glorious history to defend its territorial land with a giant leap," Tan said.

In October 1959, the fledgling PLA's air defense was the first in the world to shoot down a high-altitude spy aircraft with surface-to-air missiles.

The successful test showed China's strong determination and growing capability to safeguard its territorial land, he added.


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