Amid rising tensions between North Korea and a number of nations, as well as China’s displeasure with South Korea’s new U.S. missile defense system, China announced Wednesday a successful testing of a new type of missile in Bohai Gulf near the Korean Peninsula. The vague statement released on the ministry’s website said only that the test “achieved the intended result.” According to the defense ministry, the purpose of the test was to “raise the operational capability of the armed forces and effectively respond to threats to national security.” The Washington Post says that “the defense ministry said last month that it would respond to the missile defense system’s deployment by continuing to test new types of weapons under conditions simulating actual combat.”
As The Daily Mail notes, this testing occurred in the wake of China’s promise to remain firm allies with North Korea. Last week, China reassured North Korea of its support in the amid tensions with the United States over North Korea’s development of a nuclear program.
Another important factor in the context of this test is China’s opposition of South Korea’s new defense system, known under the acronym THAAD. This opposition is due to the system’s ability to allegedly detect China’s rocket launches and aircraft movements via radar. On Wednesday, China’s foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang stated that it has no intention of softening its opposition to THADD. He commented that “China’s position on the issue of THAAD is clear and consistent. We hope South Korea can pay high attention to China’s concerns and handle the relevant issue in a proper way.”
However, China is also currently devoted to finding a peaceful solution to the rising tensions between North Korea, South Korea, and the United States. RT notes that “In order to de-escalate tensions surrounding the Korean peninsula, Beijing has come up with an initiative to call on North Korea to refrain from carrying out further missile and nuclear tests in exchange for the US and South Korea suspending their military exercises in the region.” This initiative is supported by Russia as well, which RT states has “urged Washington and Seoul to reconsider their decision to station THAAD on the peninsula, saying it serves as a “destabilizing factor” that undermines the security and deterrent capacity of adjacent states, such as China, and could tip the existing military balance in the tense region.”