In what defense officials say represents a dramatic shift in Beijing’s nuclear strategy at a time of growing tensions with the United States, China tested a new version of a long-range missile with 10 warheads, The Washington Free Beacon reported on Tuesday.
The test of the DF-5C missile is significant, because it demonstrates that China is boosting the number of warheads in its arsenal and could alter the strategic balance, especially as it strives for a second-strike capability.
Two officials familiar with reports of the missile test said it was carried out last month and was monitored closely by U.S. intelligence agencies.
The test comes as China is stepping up preparedness for a possible military conflict with the U.S., the South China Morning Post reported.
International Assessment and Strategy Center analyst Rick Fisher told the Free Beacon that the missile test appears to be sending a signal to the new Trump administration due to his vocal opposition to their military buildup on disputed South China Sea islands and on American policy toward Taiwan, which Beijing regards as a renegade province and not an independent country.
Fisher added that this test is only the latest in attempts by China to demonstrate strength toward the U.S., as previous signs “have included the public revelation in late December via Chinese websites of the new DF-41 ICBM in Heilongjiang province, plus articles in China’s state-controlled media touting the need for China to increase its nuclear forces to intimidate Washington.”