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Beijing — China tested a nuclear-capable hypersonic missile in August, showing a capability that caught US intelligence by surprise, the Financial Times reported, citing five unnamed sources.
The report late on Saturday said the Chinese military launched a rocket carrying a hypersonic glide vehicle that flew through low-orbit space, circling the globe before cruising towards its target, which it missed by about 38km.
"The test showed that China had made astounding progress on hypersonic weapons and was far more advanced than US officials realised," the report said, citing people briefed on the intelligence.
China’s ministry of defence did not immediately respond to a faxed request for comment from Reuters on Sunday.
The US and Russia are also developing hypersonic missiles, and in September North Korea said it had test-fired a newly developed hypersonic missile.
At a 2019 parade, China showcased advancing weaponry including its hypersonic missile, known as the DF-17.
Ballistic missiles fly into outer space before returning on steep trajectories at higher speeds. Hypersonic weapons are difficult to defend against because they fly towards targets at lower altitudes but can achieve more than five times the speed of sound or about 6,200km/h.
Meanwhile, the Chinese military on Sunday condemned the US and Canada for each sending a warship through the Taiwan Strait last week, saying they were threatening peace and stability in the region.
China claims democraticallyruled Taiwan as its own territory, and has mounted repeated air force missions into Taiwan's air defence identification zone over the past year, provoking anger in Taipei. China sent around 150 aircraft into the zone over a four-day period beginning on October 1 in a further heightening of tension between Beijing and Taipei that has sparked concern internationally.
The US military said the Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer USS Dewey sailed through the narrow waterway that separates Taiwan from its giant neighbour China along with the Canadian frigate HMCS Winnipeg on Thursday and Friday.
"The US and Canada colluded to provoke and stir up trouble … seriously jeopardising peace and stability of the Taiwan Strait," the Chinese military said.
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Published by Arena Holdings and distributed with the Financial Mail on the last Thursday of every month except December and January.