'Not afraid to prepare for war' China tests air missiles as US tensions mount

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The military tests come after the US, with India, announced plans to carry out drills near China’s border in October.

Footage of China’s military tests appears to be of HQ-17A air defence missiles, observers claimed.

The weapons are part of an integrated system that can fit in a single vehicle regarded as very mobile and accurate.

Yue Gang, a retired People’s Liberation Army colonel, said the missile can intercept various targets, including aircraft, air-to-ground missiles and cruise missiles.

One military observer said the tests in Xinjiang were a show of deterrence in the countdown to the India-US drills near India’s disputed border with China.

On Monday, state broadcaster CCTV reported the Xinjiang command conducted live-fire drills with a “new type of surface-to-air missile” at an altitude of more than 14,760 feet.

On the first attempt, the missile struck a target plane flying at low altitude.

Mr Yue said the drills by Xinjiang showed Beijing’s concern over the upcoming US-India exercises later this year.

It comes as tensions continue to mount between China and the US over Taiwan.

China sees Taiwan as a breakaway province that will eventually be under Beijing’s control again but the self-ruled island sees itself as distinct from the mainland, with its own constitution and democratically-elected leaders.

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China’s President Xi Jinping has said “reunification” with Taiwan “must be fulfilled” – and has not ruled out the possible use of force to achieve this.

Under the Taiwan Relations Act, the US has an obligation to protect the self-ruled island against military actions taken by China.

In recent weeks, China has launched its biggest-ever military drills around Taiwan, firing ballistic missiles and deploying dozens of fighter jets and warships, in response to a visit to the self-ruled island by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Beijing called Ms Pelosi’s trip to Taiwan, which it views as Chinese territory, a “dangerous, reckless and irresponsible provocation” by the US against China.

Speaking about China’s response to Ms Pelosi’s visit, Mr Yue told South China Morning Post: “Now the PLA is carrying out high-profile fire strike exercises on the plateau, with the aim of deterrence and countermeasures.

“[The US-India drill] will show off forces at the gate of China. But no matter one country or many countries, China is not afraid to prepare for war.”

Song Zhongping, a Hong Kong-based military commentator, confirmed the improved version of the HQ-17 missile defence system was used in the drills.

But he did, however, claim the drills were normal exercises and not linked to the planned US-India manoeuvres.



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