China’s Hypersonic Missile Test: A Threat to UK Interests

What is the purpose of China’s hypersonic missile test?
What is the reason for the rising tensions between UK and China in recent months?
What effect has the AUKUS Pact had on escalating tensions between China and the UK?

China’s Missile Test in August

In August, China tested a hypersonic missile capable of carrying a nuclear warhead that hit its target after orbiting the Earth. China’s hypersonic missile test has not been detected on US radars and has surprised the country’s intelligence agencies. The Financial Times quoted five informed sources saying that the hypersonic rocket orbited the Earth once in low orbit and then landed near its target. This missile test shows China’s significant progress in the field of hypersonic missiles.

Major Powers Sought to Develop Hypersonic Weapons

The United States, Russia and China are developing hypersonic weapons. Russia tested one of these missiles in July. The United States plans to equip all of its naval destroyers with these missiles, which can travel at five times the speed of sound. Although some ballistic missiles are faster, unlike older technology, it is possible to control hypersonic missiles after launch, which makes it easier to evade defence and radar systems. China’s hypersonic missile test will start a new season of competition.

Concerns About China’s Growing Military Might

China’s hypersonic missile test has raised concerns in rival countries. “We have made clear our concerns about the military capabilities China continues to pursue, capabilities that only increase tensions in the region and beyond. That is one reason why we hold China as our No. 1 pacing challenge,” Pentagon Press Secretary John F Kirby said. But China has denied that the hypersonic missile test was threatening and has repeatedly stated that its military policy is defensive. China, like the United States, has no global strategy and does not seek global military operations. It has no interest in an arms competition with other countries.

UK Anti-Boat Swarm Tested in the Pacific

The UK Navy announced the testing of the new anti-boat swarm in the Pacific Ocean. Helicopters fired light missiles into the Pacific as part of a British aircraft carrier strike group led by Queen Elizabeth. The missiles detached from the helicopter within three-tenths of a second and were fired rapidly at the target. Captain James Blackmore, the Carrier Strike Group’s air wing commander, said: “Martlet is a new air to surface lightweight multi-role missile recently introduced into service for the Wildcat helicopter and provides an offensive and defensive capability against small boats and maritime targets that may pose a threat to the carrier strike group.”

The First UK Military Test Since the Treaty of AUKUS

This is the first UK military test in the Pacific since the AUKUS security pact with the US and Australia. The leaders of the UK, the United States and Australia recently announced a new tripartite military security partnership in AUKUS, which protects the common interests of both sides in the Indo-Pacific region. The UK and the United States have also pledged to equip the Australian Navy with nuclear submarine technology.

China Warns the US and UK

China sees the US-UK move as a prelude to military intervention and destabilisation in Southeast Asia and the Pacific region. An official statement has called on those countries to abandon the “Cold War” mentality. China’s foreign ministry said Beijing tested a reusable space vehicle in July, not a hypersonic missile capable of carrying a nuclear warhead. Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian noted in response to China’s hypersonic missile test that the missile was not an air craft. This was a routine test to test the technology for reusing the device. The importance of a re-experiment is that it can provide a cheap and convenient way for humans to travel unimpeded to and from space. Many companies do similar tests. The Chinese Foreign Ministry said the test was conducted in July and that the Financial Times report on its implementation in August was incorrect. The United States is closely monitoring China’s military modernisation programme to assess the potential dangers posed by its powerful strategic rival.

China Called for British Prudence

The Chinese foreign minister warned the UK about the AUKUS pact with the United States and Australia and called on London to be cautious. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said in a phone call to British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss that the creation of a new military bloc in the region would trigger an arms race, provoke confrontation between the great powers and undermine peace and stability in the area. The Chinese side opposes the agreement and urges the British side to adhere to safeguarding the Nuclear Non-Proliferation System, exercise caution and reconsider the situation. China has explicitly warned Britain that it will not accept unreasonable and unconventional diplomatic behaviour and called on British officials to take the right approach to resolve disputes.

The Danger of Nuclear Weapons Proliferation

The Chinese Foreign Minister said that the deal is the first time a nuclear-armed state has transferred a nuclear-powered submarine to a non-nuclear-armed state by providing highly enriched uranium. China is seriously concerned about a tripartite security partnership between the United States, UK and Australia and nuclear submarine cooperation. Wang also said that China and Britain should properly manage their differences to ensure the healthy development of bilateral relations.

Concerns About China-UK Arms Race

Announced in September this year, the security pact is widely aimed at targeting China and its military presence in the Indo-Pacific region. Malaysia and Indonesia have said they are concerned that the AUKUS pact could lead to an arms race in Southeast Asia, but other countries in the area have been more cautious. The governments of East and Southeast Asia are concerned that the escalation of the arms race by major powers will threaten them and jeopardise their interests.

Competition between China and the UK in East and Southeast Asia is growing, which could be dangerous for countries in the region. If the two sides do not find a solution to reduce tensions as soon as possible, the escalation of the conflict could lead to a new Cold War in the region, especially as the signs of this new Cold War become more apparent after China’s hypersonic missile test.

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