China has said it successfully tested a missile intercept system, in what analysts said was a show of its advanced air defence capabilities amid tensions over US arms sales to Taiwan.
"China conducted a test on ground-based midcourse missile interception technology within its territory. The test has achieved the expected objective," Xinhua news agency said of Monday's test in a brief dispatch.
"The test is defensive in nature and is not targeted at any country," it added, without giving any specifics about the technology used.
The news comes soon after a US official in Taipei said the Pentagon had approved the sale of Patriot missile equipment to Taiwan as part of a package passed by Congress more than a year ago.
The Patriot "PAC-3" missiles can destroy missiles in mid-air, and could be used against the thousand or more offensive missiles that Taiwan says China has along its coast facing the island.
A commentary from the Xinhua agency on Monday warned of broader fallout from the Patriot missile deal.
"Each time the United States has sold weapons to Taiwan, there has been huge damage to China-U.S. relations," said the commentary, issued separately from the report on the anti-missile test. "This U.S. arms sale to Taiwan will be no exception."
The commentary accused the Obama administration of betraying a commitment to respect each country's "core interests."
"Immediately halt weapons sales to Taiwan to avoid damaging cooperation between China and the United States in important areas," it said. It did not specify those areas.
China curtailed military-to-military contacts with the United States after then President George W. Bush notified Congress in October 2008 of plans to sell Taiwan a long-delayed arms package worth up to $6.4 billion.
Senior Chinese People's Liberation Army officials have also urged Beijing to punish Washington and U.S. firms for arms deals with the disputed island.
"We have the power and ability to adopt counter-measures (against U.S. arms sales to Taiwan)," Jin Yinan, a PLA major-general and professor at China's National Defence University, wrote in a newspaper, the Study Times, earlier this month. "We must use counter-measures to make the other side pay a corresponding price and suffer corresponding punishment."
PLA officials and documents in recent years have said developing anti-missile technology is one focus of defence spending, which has grown by double-digits over many years.
China's anti-missile technology remains relatively primitive, "far from forming an operational capability", a weapons expert, Yang Chengjun, told the Global Times, a Chinese newspaper.
Beijing has claimed sovereignty over self-ruled Taiwan since 1949, when Communist forces won the Chinese civil war and fleeing Nationalists gained control of the island. Beijing has vowed to bring Taiwan under its rule, by force if necessary.
The United States switched diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing in 1979, recognising Beijing's "one China" policy. But Washington remains Taiwan's biggest military backer and says it is obliged to help the island defend itself.
Güncelleme Tarihi: 12 Ocak 2010, 16:53