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China claims successful anti-ballistic missile interceptor test

By Jessie Yeung, CNN

China successfully conducted an anti-ballistic missile test on Sunday night, according to the country’s Defense Ministry.

It was a mid-course land-based missile tested inside China’s borders, the ministry said in a brief statement, adding that the test was defensive in nature and not targeted at any country.

Anti-ballistic missile systems are intended to protect a country from potential attack by using projectiles to intercept incoming missiles, including intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs). Some analysts compare this to knocking down a bullet with another bullet.

This is China’s sixth known test of a land-based anti-ballistic missile, according to the state-run tabloid Global Times. The country has been carrying out such tests since 2010, usually holding them every few years.

Before Sunday, China last launched an anti-ballistic missile test in February 2021, according to state media.

The test comes amid growing tensions in the region, with a recent spate of missile tests from North Korea, including short-range ballistic missiles and a suspected ICBM. South Korean and US officials have also warned that renewed activity at North Korea’s nuclear test site suggests the country could conduct a nuclear test any day – its first since 2017.

South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol, who took office in May, has pledged to take a tougher stance on North Korea – and suggested he will seek to install a second anti-ballistic missile system.

In 2016, when South Korea announced it would deploy the US-built Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) defense system, sparking a year-long diplomatic row with China, which has argued that the missile defense system would jeopardize its own national security.

THAAD is designed to shoot down short, medium and intermediate ballistic missiles and is used by the US military to protect units in places like Guam and Hawaii.

Earlier in May, China criticized the United States for deploying medium-range ballistic missiles in the Asia-Pacific region, saying it had a “seriously negative impact” on international arms control.

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