Page last updated at 07:41 GMT, Tuesday, 12 January 2010

China 'successfully tests missile interceptor'

Patriot missile launcher in Taiwan - 22 October 2004 file photo
Taiwan is upgrading its anti-missile defences

China says it has successfully tested military technology which intercepts missiles in mid-air.

A brief report on the state news agency said the test had been defensive and had not been targeted at any country.

The test came a few days after the US approved selling air defence missiles to Taiwan despite Chinese protests.

China - which regards Taiwan as part of its territory - has warned the US that relations could be disrupted if the sale goes ahead.

'Objective achieved'

A three-line statement from the official news agency Xinhua said only that China had tested a ground-based "missile interception technology" that had "achieved its expected objective".

China has dramatically increased defence spending in the past few years, in a bid to modernise its People's Liberation Army.

Taiwan estimates China has up to 1,500 missiles aimed at the self-ruled island.

Beijing is also thought to be building a navy that could block the US military from reaching the region if fighting broke out between China and Taiwan.

Taiwan relies on US arms sales and a guarantee of protection for its defence - and on 7 January the US agreed the sale of Patriot air defence missile systems to the island.

Several days beforehand, China warned such a deal could damage relations.

"We urge the US to recognise the gravity of selling arms to Taiwan," foreign ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said.

In the past, China has threatened to use force to reunite Taiwan with the mainland if the island declares formal independence.

But relations have improved since President Ma Ying-jeou took office in 2008.

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