On Tuesday, the US shot down a mock ICBM over the Pacific Ocean after reports of Chinese missiles successfully hitting a moving shop in the disputed South China Sea surfaced.
But military experts have said Washington sent a clear warning to Beijing after shooting down the mock war weapon.
Beijing-based military expert Zhou Chenming said: “[It wanted to show its] Asian allies that Washington is still able to protect them.
“The SM-3 Block IIA interceptor test could be seen as a response to China launching two ‘aircraft carrier killer’ missiles into the South China Sea.”
Back in August the People’s Liberation Army fired a DF-26B and a DF-21D from separate sites into the dispute region, according to the South China Morning Post.
US ‘sends warning’ to China by shooting missile
US sends China warning by shooting missile down
The US military exercise marked the first time a missile interceptor had been launched from a ship at sea and hit to destroy a mock ICBM in flight.
Previous tests had used interceptors launched from underground silos across the US.
However, Song Zhongping, a Hong Kong-based military commentator, said the US does not have the capability to stop Chinese missiles due to their superior manoeuvrability and rapid trace changes in flight.
He said: “The SM-3’s capability against a DF-41 is very limited, but it would be a threat to ICBM’s developed by North Korea and Iran.
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Chinese President Xi Jinping
“However, the US test will spur China to step up its missile renewal programme to upgrade its old generation ballistic missiles.”
The relationship between Washington and Beijing has deteriorated over recent months following the outbreak of COVID-19 and the tensions in the South China Sea.
Despite having no claim over the archipelago, the US has increased its military presence to combat against China’s dominance in the region.
As the US has increased its military ties with Taiwan, a Chinese military source said the missile launches in August were a warning to their relationship.
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The source said: “The Guangxi missile drill was aimed at warning Taiwan’s independence-leaning ruling Democratic Progressive Party that the PLA has the capability to hit specific targets on land.”
While Washington’s latest military exercise will have caught the eye of China, it is believed, Washington was more likely to be sending a message to North Korea.
Just last month, Kim Jong-Un’s nation unveiled its largest-ever, road-mobile ICBM during a military parade to mark the 75th anniversary of the founding of its ruling party.
During the parade, Kim said North Korea would continue to build “self-defensive deterrence” and apologised for living standards in the country, as well as the coronavirus pandemic.
North Korean Supreme leader Kim Jong-un
He said: ”I am ashamed that I have never been able to repay you properly for your enormous trust.
“My efforts and devotion were not sufficient to bring our people out of difficult livelihoods.”
While also remembering the anniversary of when Chinese troops entered the Korean War, President Xi Jinping gave a terrifying warning.
US shoots down mock ICBM from China
President Xi said: “After arduous battles, Chinese and (North) Korean troops, armed to their teeth, defeated their opponents, shattering the myth of the invincibility of the US military, and forcing the invaders to sign the armistice agreement on July 27, 1953.”
Before adding that China was ready to “fight war with war”.
He continued: “Seventy years ago, the Imperialist invaders fired on the doorstep of a new China.
“The Chinese people will not create trouble but nor are we afraid, and no matter the difficulties of challenges that we face, our legs will not shake and our backs will not bend.”