Top US General: The Chinese military is expanding rapidly
Amid rising tensions between Washington and Beijing, China’s suspected test of a hypersonic weapon is a very significant event.
A top US General has said that China’s suspected hypersonic missile test is close to a Sputnik moment, referring to the Soviet satellite launch that sparked the Cold War arms race, the BBC reported.
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley said in an interview with Bloomberg News that the Chinese military is “expanding rapidly”.
The Financial Times reported this month that the test stunned the US military. The missiles, fired from a rocket in low-earth orbit, are thought to be capable of evading US defence systems.
However, Beijing denies any missile test. It said that it was a spacecraft. Zhao Lijian, Beijing’s foreign affairs spokesman, disputed the Financial Times’ report and claimed the test was “a spacecraft, not a missile”.
“What we saw was a very significant event of a test of a hypersonic weapon system. And it is very concerning,” Gen Milley told Bloomberg on Wednesday, the report said.
Earlier, The launch of the Sputnik satellite shocked the US government, which feared the Soviet Union’s rapid technological progress. It spurred then President John F Kennedy to set a goal of landing on the moon within a decade, which was completed in 1969.
recalling that moment, Gen Milley said, “I don’t know if it’s quite a Sputnik moment, but I think it’s very close to that. It has all of our attention.”
His comment is the first official acknowledgment by the US of claims that China conducted two missile tests over the summer. Reports indicate that it was a nuclear-capable missile that could evade US air defence systems.
Pentagon spokesman John Kirby refused to comment on the general’s remarks at a Wednesday briefing, saying: “This is not a technology that is alien to us, that we haven’t been thinking about for a while.”
He added that the US is working to strengthen defence systems and pursuing its own hypersonic capabilities.
Gen Milley also warned that the Chinese military has grown “from a peasant-based infantry army that was very, very large in 1979 to a very capable military that covers all the domains and has global ambitions.”
According to CNN, CIA Director Bill Burns described China last week as the greatest technological threat to the US.
[With Inputs from IANS]
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