On Saturday, Oct. 16, a Financial Times report named five unnamed sources that claimed a hypersonic missile (the Long March rocket) has been launched in the summer.
On Monday, Oct. 18, foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian had told the media briefing that in fact, a routine test had been carried out in July in order to verify different types of “reusable spacecraft technology.”
“This was not a missile, this was a spacecraft,” BBC reports him saying. “This is of great significance for reducing the cost of spacecraft use.”
Mr. Zhao had replied “yes” when asked whether the Financial Times report was incorrect.
The concern comes from the fact that hypersonic missiles are considered much faster and much more agile than normal ones, meaning they are difficult to intercept and detect, according to the BBC article.
Zhao Tong, a senior fellow in the Nuclear Policy Program at the Carnegie Endowment For International Peace, reported to VICE, that Beijing had reportedly conducted a test showing the country was developing a type of missile that could theoretically “keep orbiting the Earth before being guided towards its target.”
Zhao also elaborated that “many countries including the U.S. have the technological expertise to build such devices, but China could be the first one to be turning the concept into reality.”