China's military has test-fired two missiles in the South China Sea, including a "carrier killer,” as a warning to U.S. forces, the South China Morning Post reported Thursday.
China's People’s Liberation Army launched two missiles including a "carrier killer” which Beijing reportedly sent as a warning to U.S. forces in the South China Sea.
The DF-26B and DF-21D missiles fired Wednesday morning targeted an area between the southern island province of Hainan and the Paracel Islands, the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post reported, citing unidentified sources close to the Chinese military.
The Ministry of Defense said the People's Liberation Army was conducting military exercises in the area but gave no confirmation of missiles being fired or other details.
"Based on annual military training arrangements, the military conducted exercises around the Nansha Islands and the waters and airspace of the northern part of the Xisha Islands," said spokesperson Wu Qian, using the Chinese names for the Spratly Islands and the Paracels to the north. "The exercises do not target any other country.”
Disputes over control of the South China Sea, one of the world's busiest commercial crossroads, are a growing source of tension in Beijing's relations with Washington and its southern neighbors.
The Trump administration this year rejected most of Beijing’s claims over sovereignty of the majority of the sea, portions of which also are claimed by Vietnam, the Philippines and other governments. Over the last few years, China has deployed troops, aircraft, radar and missile stations on some seven man-made islands it has built atop of coral reefs, allowing it to expand its military reach beyond its shores.
Wednesday’s launches followed Chinese complaints that a U.S. U2 spy plane entered a "no-fly zone” declared by Beijing during a military drill off its northern coast.
The DF-21 is unusually accurate and was dubbed "carrier killer” by military analysts who believe it was developed to target U.S. aircraft carriers that might be involved in a potential conflict with China.
The DF-26B was launched from the northwestern province of Qinghai while the DF-21D was fired from Zhejiang province south of Shanghai on the east coast, The South China Morning Post said.
The DF-26 is believed to be capable of carrying nuclear or conventional warheads. This would violate the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty signed by Washington and Moscow during the Cold War. The Trump administration cited China's development of the DF-26 and similar weapons when it withdrew from the treaty last year.
On Wednesday, the U.S. State Department said it was imposing sanctions on Chinese officials responsible for the military buildup in the South China Sea.
Apart from U.S. travel bans against an undisclosed number of Chinese officials including business people, the Commerce Department said it had added 24 state-owned Chinese enterprises to its commercial blacklist. That means most U.S. exports to those firms must be licensed by the federal government and overcome a presumption of denial.
Beijing denounced Washington's sanctions targeting Chinese expansionism in the South China Sea, calling the move "tyrannical logic."
"The relevant U.S. acts grossly interfere in China's internal affairs, violate international law and relevant international norms, which are totally out of hegemonic logic and power politics,” said a foreign ministry spokesman, Zhao Lijian. "China will take firm measures to resolutely safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of its enterprises and individuals."