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    Explained: How China is narrowing gap with US in military power

    Explained: How China is narrowing gap with US in military power

    Explained: How China is narrowing gap with US in military power
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    By CNBCTV18.com  IST (Published)

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    In August, China tested a nuclear-capable hypersonic missile. In July and August, China had announced the launch of the 77th and 79th Long March 2C rockets. It did not announce the 78th, which is believed to have been used to test the hypersonic missile.

    China stunned the world by recently testing a game-changing “space nuke” that can strike anywhere around the globe by evading missile defence systems. In August, China test-fired a nuclear-capable hypersonic missile, the Financial Times reported, quoting several unnamed sources.
    According to the report, China launched a rocket carrying a hypersonic glide vehicle that circled the globe through low-orbit space. It is said to have missed its target by about two dozen miles.
    "The test showed that China had made astounding progress on hypersonic weapons and was far more advanced than that US officials realised," said the Financial Times report, adding that the test now raised questions on why the US underestimated China’s military modernisation.
    Secret launch
    The China Academy of Aerospace Aerodynamics was developing the weapon under state-owned China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation, the arm responsible for developing missile systems and rockets for China’s space programme, sources told FT. The weapon was launched on a Long March rocket. In July and August, China had announced the launch of the 77th and 79th Long March 2C rockets. It did not announce the 78th, which is believed to have been used to test the hypersonic missile.
    Weapons more advanced than those of US
    According to Al Jazeera, the US, Russia and five other countries are working on hypersonic technology apart from China. Last month, North Korea had also test-fired a hypersonic missile.
    Hypersonic missiles can fly at more than five times the speed of sound. They can deliver nuclear weapons like traditional ballistic missiles. However, they differ from traditional ballistic missiles in their flight and speed. Hypersonic missiles can fly on a low trajectory in the atmosphere and reach the target faster than traditional ballistic missiles, which fly high into space.
    It is also difficult to track and defend against a hypersonic missile as it is manoeuvrable. There is no evidence that the US can track and take down a hypersonic missile.
    The weapon tested by China could fly over the South Pole, the FT report mentioned, quoting two anonymous sources familiar with the latest development. This could be a big challenge for the US, which had missile defence systems focused on the northern polar route.
    Focus on Taiwan Straits and South China Sea
    The tests come at a time when US-China tensions have mounted as Beijing steps up military activity near Taiwan. The Global Times, China’s state-owned tabloid, has reported that China's military build-up will now focus on the Taiwan Straits and the South China Sea.
    It will give China an added advantage in these areas due to the geographical proximity.
    China is not going to engage in a "nuclear arms race" with the US or build a nuclear force similar to that of the US. However, the country will continue to improve the quality of its nuclear deterrence to ensure that the US does not engage in the idea of nuclear blackmail at any critical moment, the Global Times reported.
    The report added that no matter how much the US spends on expanding its military power and procurement of new arms, it will not be able to enjoy overwhelming military superiority in China's coastal areas.
    Washington needs to be realistic and rethink its approach to China, the report mentioned.
    What is US doing
    A Washington Post report said the US recently successfully tested nuclear weapons designed to guarantee deterrence in case of any surprises. The country already has enough nuclear weapons to counter the threat of new Chinese missiles.
    The US military had successfully tested a hypersonic weapon in March last year and another in September this year.
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