China denies report of hypersonic missile launch, saying it tested ‘peaceful' space vehicle

Asia's Tech News Daily

File. A man walks among supersonic cruise missiles at the 13th China International Aviation and Aerospace Exhibition in Zhuhai on 28 September 2021 (AFP via Getty Images)

China’s foreign ministry has denied that the country tested a hypersonic missile that circled around the globe before hitting its target in August.

The foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian told reporters that China tested a space vehicle in July and not a hypersonic missile. “It was not a missile, it was a space vehicle,” Mr Zhao said.

Observers had noted that China did not announce an operation between its 77th space launch in July and what it called its 79th in late August.

And a report by the Financial Times citing five sources close to the launch said it had in fact tested a hypersonic missile that “flew through low-orbit space” in a way that could “negate” the US’s missile defence systems. China’s space programme is run by its military and is closely tied to its agenda of building hypersonic missiles.

China had not commented on the Saturday evening report in the Financial Times beyond an article in the Communist Party-run Global Times newspaper. That piece gloated about the advancement of China’s military capabilities relative to the US “if the FT report is to be believed”.

Speaking during his regular media briefing on Monday, Mr Zhao told reporters that the August test was “of great significance for reducing the use-cost of spacecraft and could provide a convenient and affordable way to make a round trip for mankind’s peaceful use of space”.

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