Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles

Beijing 'forced' to develop missile interception system

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 19 January, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 19 January, 2010, 12:00am

China developed a missile interception system out of a sense of 'forced action' because it perceived threats from other nations, a senior military official has revealed in a commentary written for a state-run magazine.

A professor of military strategy and theory in the Second Artillery Corps, Senior Colonel Wu Tianfu, wrote in the latest issue of Xinhua-run Outlook Weekly magazine that the world should not be surprised if China carried out more missile interceptor tests as it was just a 'sensible thing to do'.

The first such test surprised many, with Beijing announcing last week that it had successfully tested a ground-based, mid-course missile-interception system just a week after the United States decided to sell more arms to Taiwan, despite strong protests from Beijing.

The test, conducted in an unspecified location in China, sparked renewed discussion on its military development. Many critics noted that it underscored China's military ambition and confidence.

Xinhua and the foreign ministry insisted the test was only 'defensive' and did not target any country.

Wu said the test was an 'important experiment for China's long-term national security strategy' because it could not just focus on development when it felt threatened.

He said China would not have had to develop such a sophisticated system if 'certain Western countries' - none specified - had not insisted on building strategic missile systems and stepping up the development of such systems in areas with strategic importance. 'If [they] had not frequently conducted anti-missile tests and space war drills, and extended their defence strategies into a large swathe of territories in developing countries, it's unnecessary for China to have conducted an anti-missile interception test,' Wu said.

'With such a strong feeling of being under threat and under pressure, it's only sensible that China conducted such a test. There could be more tests in the future. The world should not be worried or surprised.'

Those who perceived a 'China threat' and attempted to 'sow discord' between China and other major countries were either ignorant of China's military and national development or held reactionary views towards China's efforts in upholding world peace and security, Wu said.

China's military spending and development has long been shrouded in secrecy. But with the country's economic and political clout rising internationally, Beijing has been more confident in showing off its military prowess, especially at the 60th anniversary of the People's Republic in October. The central government's spending on military development has been increasing over the years, but figures remain opaque.

Last week's test also spurred speculation that it could trigger an arms race in the region. Wu said the test had helped boost national confidence and pride, and would prevent Western powers from 'hatching sinister plots' against China.

'[This] would help to maintain a balance in world strategy and promote a more multi-polar, orderly, harmonised world,' he said.

The test also showed that it was a 'stupid idea' to attempt to monopolise military technology, Wu said.

'China's successful missile interceptor test proved that some Western powers' monopoly on advanced technology would only encourage China to be innovative and master the technology quickly.'

China has long sought to acquire advanced technology but complains that Western countries have refused to sell it.

The interception system Beijing tested was a complex anti-missile system that comprises a ground-based missile interceptor capable of shooting down a ballistic missile in space and a radar network that could monitor incoming warheads.

Washington had pursued similar technology but cancelled tests last year because of repeated delays in the project.