The missile interceptor China fired on Monday may have hit its target with precision, but critics said it sent out confusing messages to countries in the region and could trigger another arms race. China is unique among major powers as it is surrounded by at least four nations that have intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs). The anti-missile system China tested on Monday threatens to reduce these weapons' capability or render them useless. While this would put the Chinese military in a strong position in the region, it could raise the suspicions and concerns of other powers. Pakistan and North Korea - both of which have ICBMs - are not likely to worry given their strong alliance with Beijing. But it could be a different case with India and Japan, two of China's geopolitical rivals. Even Russia may not be entirely happy with the test. Anthony Wong Dong, who is president of the Macau-based International Military Association, said China was now behind only the United States in possessing the technology to intercept missiles in space. 'China is bordered by some countries equipped with missiles,' Wong said. 'The plan to develop such an anti-missile system was hatched in the 1960s but abandoned later. But the bombing attack on the Chinese embassy in Yugoslavia in 1999 made the Chinese leaders realise the security threats China was facing, so the plan was restarted.' Former US president George W. Bush's hostile attitude towards China when he first took office also partly prompted the decision to resume development of the anti-missile system, Wong said. China now finds itself with neighbours armed with, or developing, intercontinental missiles capable of threatening large parts of the country. One major concern might be India, which has yet to settle border disputes with Beijing after a bitter war more than 40 years ago. Japan, which shares close military ties with the US, is China's traditional geopolitical rival. The decision by Beijing to push ahead with the costly and complicated ground-based missile defence system reflected China's quest to become a prominent power. It also comes at a time of global geopolitical reconfiguration, with Western powers bogged down by financial crises. Ben Saul, director of the Sydney Centre for International Law at the University of Sydney, said the development signalled China's growing military confidence and ambition to match its economic and political prowess. 'When a new technology comes out, there is always suspicion by other countries that this is provocative. In that sense this is potentially a signal to the world that China is more confident in its military capability. Many states are aware that China is a growing military power and will understand that this is a natural progression,' he said. But Andrei Chang, editor-in-chief of the Canadian-based Kanwa Defence Review, said the test would prompt countries such as Japan, Russia and India to develop their own anti-ballistic missile defences.