Chinese has stepped up its nuclear missile test programme
Analysts fear the fresh trials could be an attempt to put early pressure on new US President Donald Trump who was highly critical of China during his election campaign and has done little to improve relations since sweeping to power.
US defence sources said flight tests of the DF-5C missile saw a rocket fired from Taiyuan Space Launch Centre in central China to an impact range in the western Taklamakan desert.
The missile was carrying a multiple independently targetable re-entry vehicle (MIRV) bus containing 10 inert warheads.
Analysts fear China is trying to put early pressure on Donald Trump
Earlier, versions of the DF-5 have either a single warhead or from six to eight MIRVs, according to estimates.
Washington Free Beacon’s senior editor Bill Gertz said the development may indicate China intends to increase the number of warheads from the estimated 250 it possesses.
This would force Mr Trump to review its own strategy to find a balance between China’s growing capacity and Washington’s nuclear limitation commitment to Russia.
Donald Trump has done little to improve relations between Washington and Beijing
The test comes amid a period of heightened tensions between China and the US in the wake of the election of Donald Trump as America’s 45th president.
Mr Trump has threatened to oppose China on a number of fronts, from its military build-up in the South China Sea to its monetary policy.
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Some Chinese military chiefs perceive a growing threat from the US
Inside China's Military
Wed, December 28, 2016
An inside view of the Chinese military over 120 years.
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Armed police officers and soldiers of a frontier inspection station drill in the snow on December 21, 2016 in Heihe, Heilongjiang Province of China
He has even plunged Washington’s long-standing commitment to the “One China Policy” into doubt by directly contacting the leaders of Taiwan in the days after his election.
Beijing has warned Mr Trump against entering a confrontation while some Chinese government media outlets have published reports calling for strengthening the military in the face of increased perceived threat from the US.