New weapons testing needed to counter threats: official
China announced Thursday it would conduct live-fire drills and test new weapons to counter a controversial anti-missile defense system the US is deploying in South Korea.
Yang Yujun, a spokesperson of China's Ministry of National Defense, said at a monthly press briefing on Thursday that given the deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) during the complicated and sensitive situation on the Korean Peninsula, the Chinese military will continue to conduct targeted live-fire drills and put new weapons and military equipment through a combat test to safeguard China's security and regional stability.
The military drills will mainly involve the People's Liberation Army (PLA) Air Force and the Rocket Force and simulate counterattack scenarios against the threat of THAAD, said Song Zhongping, a military expert who used to serve in the PLA Rocket Force.
Song said the drills will simulate two situations: first, how to move stealthily without being detected by the THAAD radar; and second, how to launch a preemptive strike to remove the threat of THAAD in a war scenario using anti-radiation missiles, surface-to-surface missiles or cruise missiles.
The defense ministry announcement came one day after U.S. departed part of the elements of the THAAD missile defense system in southeastern South Korea.
Although the U.S. and South Korea have said THAAD is a purely defensive measure against DPRK threats and does not target any other country, China and Russia are concerned that the system's powerful radar can penetrate their territory and undermine their security.
Zhu Feng, an international relations professor at Nanjing University noted that the THAAD deployment has further complicated the situation.
"If not properly handled, Pyongyang might believe that it could exploit the differences between China and the U.S. and South Korea on THAAD and proceed with its missile and nuclear programs," said Zhu.
On Wednesday, China and Russia conducted their third joint anti-missile press conference in Moscow.
Cai Jun, deputy director of the combat division of the Joint Staff Department of China's Central Military Commission, said the THAAD deployment aims to weaken the strategic capability of China and Russia, and the two countries will take further action to safeguard their security interests.
"Unilaterally strengthening an anti-missile system is a move to achieve absolute military advantage, which would escalate tensions, trigger regional confrontation or even spark an arms race," Cai said at the press conference.
In May 2016, China and Russia conducted their first joint computer-simulated anti-missile drill.
"It is possible for the Chinese and Russian militaries to cooperate on anti-missile missions based on mutually owned weapon systems. For example, China has bought S300 and S400 missiles from Russia," Song noted.