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Chinese military conducts full test of long-range missile ‘which can hit any part of US’Minnie Chan20 December 2014China last week launched its most comprehensive test of its latest-generation intercontinental ballistic missile, the DF-41, which can hit anywhere in the US, according to an American media website.A successful test would mean China had made a significant advance in its nuclear capabilities, with far-reaching consequences for Washington’s balance of weapons power in the Asia-Pacific, a defence policy expert said.The PLA conducted the full test of the DF-41 involving multiple, independently targetable reentry vehicles on Saturday, the Washington Free Beacon quoted unnamed US defence officials as saying on Thursday. The Beacon, a conservative online newspaper, has a proven track record in reporting on such tests, with previous accounts later confirmed in state media.The missile has an estimated range of 12,000km and can carry up to 10 warheads, which separate from the rocket body during the final, third stage of flight and target individual cities.The military has previously carried out tests of the DF-41 but these probably involved only a single warhead, according to Professor He Qisong, a defence policy specialist at Shanghai University of Political Science and Law.“A full-course flight test of the DF-41 means China has made another stride forward in building a great nuclear power,” He said. “The new achievement will definitely raise concern from the US as it [shows China can] … break through Washington’s ballistic missile defence systems in the Asia-Pacific region.”The Beacon did not specify the number of warheads involved.According to previous reports, the Second Artillery Corps, the strategic missile force of the People’s Liberation Army, conducted at least two tests of the DF-41 at the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Centre in Shanxi in 2012 and late last year.The previous model, the DF-31, has an estimated range of 10,000km, putting it within reach of capitals in Europe and the US west coast. The PLA has never officially confirmed the existence of the new generation, but a government environmental monitoring centre in Shaanxi mentioned its development on its website in June, possibly by accident. The information was picked up in a report by the state-run Global Times on the anniversary of the PLA’s formation on August 1, although it was later removed.Macau-based military expert Antony Wong Dong said President Xi Jinping was taking a more confrontational military stance on the global stage as part of a wider strategy to consolidate allegiance within the military.“Xi is facing a certain resistance in dealing with the massive corruption problem in the PLA,” Wong said. “With challenging international political tension, the army would be forced to listen to him, just like during the eras of his predecessors, Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping.”Earlier this month, the PLA conducted a third flight test of a new hypersonic glide vehicle, dubbed the “Wu-14”, after its second test failed in August, the Beacon reported. A Pentagon spokesman confirmed the report.
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