China’s Reaction To India’s Successful Agni-V Launch

As one of the permanent members of UN Security Council, China is said to be willing to question India’s successful launch of the Agni-V ballistic missile at the UNSC, which occurred on Monday. With a range of 5,000 km, the missile can cover most parts of China and is capable of carrying a nuclear warhead. The missile is perceived to give India a long-range strike capability and hence “balance out” China’s military muscle.

Indian and Japanese media has speculated that the purpose of this Agni-V intercontinental ballistic missile is to counter China because Agni-V can reach most parts of Asia and Europe.

Spokesperson of the Chinese Foreign Ministry, Hua Chunying, said that “the UN Security Council has explicit regulations on whether India can develop ballistic missiles capable of carrying nuclear weapons.” Probably hoping for India to respond immediately, she did not specify if China would actually invoke these rules.

Following China’s reaction, Vikas Swarup, External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson said that “India’s strategic capabilities are not targeted against any particular country. India abides by all the applicable international obligations and hopes that all other do the same. India’s strategic autonomy and growing engagement contributes to strategic stability.”

Hua Chunying said that “China is willing to work alongside regional countries including India to maintain the long-lasting peace, stability, and prosperity of the region.” In fact, China and India have reached a consensus that both are not rivals for competition, but partners as two significant developing countries and emerging economies. “China always maintains that preserving the strategic balance and stability in South Asia is conducive to peace and prosperity of regional countries and beyond.”

The Agni-V missile was launched from Wheeler Island off the Odisha coast on Monday. It is approximately 17 metres long, weighs about 50 tonnes, and has a very high accuracy Ring Laser Gyro based in Inertial Navigation System. The missile can be deployed at a short notice due to its enhanced mobility. Agni-V is said to be the strongest land-based missile systems today.

President Pranab Mukherjee tweeted that the launch “will enhance our strategic and deterrence capabilities.” Indeed, the missiles are among India’s most sophisticated weapons. According to the PTI news agency, the country conducted the first test launch in 2012, the second in 2013, and the third in 2015.

Once the Agni-V is inducted in the Indian military, the exclusive club of countries with intercontinental ballistic missiles will be expanded to include India, alongside with the US, Russia, China, France, and Britain.