BEIJING (Reuters) - China’s Defence Ministry on Thursday indirectly confirmed a report it had carried out another test of a new intercontinental missile.
The Washington Free Beacon on Tuesday reported that China had on April 12 again tested a new long-range missile called the DF-41.
It did not say where the test took place but noted it came ahead of a visit by U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter to the aircraft carrier USS Stennis in the South China Sea.
The Chinese Defence Ministry in a statement on its website in response to the report said that routine research tests on Chinese territory were normal.
“These tests are not aimed at any set country or target,” it said.
The Washington Free Beacon news website said it did not know where the test happened, though the Defence Ministry said reports said it had happened in the vicinity of the South China Sea.
“Media reports about the test location are pure speculation,” it said, without elaborating.
The U.S. Defense Department declined to comment, but Eric Lund, a spokesman for the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation, said it was aware of reports of the missile launch, and added:
“We continue to call on China to be more transparent with regards to the scale and scope of its intended missile and nuclear modernization programs.”
The Chinese defense ministry confirmed in December that China was testing the missile. The Washington Free Beacon said in a report at the end of December that U.S. intelligence agencies had recently monitored a test of the DF-41, which can be mounted on a train.
Chinese President Xi Jinping is overseeing an ambitious military modernization program, including developing stealth fighters and building China’s own aircraft carriers.
This has rattled Beijing’s neighbors, several of which are engaged in territorial disputes with China, as well as Washington.
China says it has no hostile intent and that it needs a modern military to protect its legitimate security needs as the world’s second-largest economy.
Reporting by Ben Blanchard in Beijing and David Brunnstrom in Washington; Editing by Robert Birsel and James Dalgleish