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South Korea

China’s missile tests in Bohai ‘aimed at THAAD’

Analysts say ‘rare high-profile announcement of test’ was a response to last month’s deployment of US-built anti-missile system in South Korea

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 10 May, 2017, 11:16am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 10 May, 2017, 11:27pm

Chinese rocket forces tested a new type of missile aimed at the ­country’s waters west of the ­Korean peninsula, the defence ministry announced in a rare public statement.

The statement did not say what missile was tested or when the launch took place but the announcement was likely aimed at South Korea and the United States, observers said.

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“The People’s Liberation Army Rocket Force conducted a test of a new type of missile somewhere in Bohai [Sea] in recent days, and achieved desired ­results,” the ministry said in a statement on Tuesday.

It said the test was designed to boost the military’s capacity to fight threats to national security.

Military analysts said the “rare high-profile announcement of the missile test” was a response to the deployment of the US-built Terminal High Altitude Area ­Defence (THAAD) anti-missile system in South Korea. The ­announcement comes after ­defence ministry spokesman Yang Yujun said last month that China would conduct live-fire drills and test new weapons to safeguard its security in response to the THAAD roll-out.

The US military began installing the system’s first components in South Korea late last month after nuclear-armed North Korea launched four missiles which it said was part of training for a strike on US bases in Japan.

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Hong Kong-based military analyst Liang Guoliang said the Chinese missile might have been launched from the mainland’s northwest, probably in Xinjiang or Gansu provinces, with the warhead landing in the Bohai Sea.

“The missile might be launched from the northwest to the east by the Rocket Force, with a range of 2,000km or above. It was likely the advanced intermediate-range DF-26B, a modified version of the DF-26,” Liang said.

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“Given the landing area, the test is obviously aimed at THAAD in South Korea.”

The DF-26B is the new ­generation of Dongfeng series missiles.

Zhou Chenming, from the Knowfar Institute for Strategic and Defence Studies, a Chinese think tank, said: “The test might involve variants of new missile types, including the DF-21, DF-26 and other types of Dongfeng ­series missiles.”

Zhou said the Bohai Sea had been the landing site for all sea target missile tests for several years, but this time “was quite high profile” as the defence ministry announced it. “Missile tests near the East Sea could cause deterrence to some countries,” Zhou said.

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Macau-based military observer Antony Wong Dong said the test might also be aimed at Washington, which has sent two aircraft carrier strike groups to waters off the Korean Peninsula.

“The test missile might be a new modified DF-26A anti-ship missile launched from a marine weapons testing ground in southern Liaoning,” Wong said.

The US the USS Carl Vinson carrier strike group to the Korean peninsula to conduct naval drills with the South Korean navy and Japanese Maritime Self-Defence Force last month. Another carrier, the Ronald Reagan, would join the carrier group late this month, according to a report from the Nikkei Asian Review.