US Defense Secretary said China’s hypersonic weapon test increased tensions in the region

US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said China’s development and testing of hypersonic weapons has increased tensions in the Indo-Pacific region and underlined why China is a leading challenger. head for the US military.

“We know that China conducted a hypersonic weapon test on July 27,” Austin said in the first confirmation of the test reported by the Financial Times.

“We will continue to maintain capabilities to defend and deter a range of potential threats from the PRC to ourselves and our allies,” he added during his visit. Seoul.

China fly a Supersonic surf vehicle – a controllable spaceship traveling at 5 times the speed of sound – over one Orbital Missile System, demonstrating the ability to strike any part of the United States with nuclear weapons. The HGV launched a missile as it flew over the South China Sea, demonstrating the ability to astonish the Pentagon with the difficulty of firing a projectile while in flight at such speed.

Austin spoke with Suh Wook, his South Korean counterpart, after the annual talks on military alliances between the countries. Discussions include General Mark Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the United States.

In a joint statement, Austin and Suk acknowledged “the importance of maintaining peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait.” That language reinforces a statement made by President Moon Jae-in and President Joe Biden in May, reflecting escalating concerns in the region about China’s increasingly assertive military activity around China. Taiwan.

Shinzo Abe, Japan’s hawkish former prime minister, proposed on Wednesday that Tokyo will support the US conflict with China over Taiwan if Beijing invades the country. China considers Taiwan part of its sovereign territory.

China’s foreign ministry on Thursday summoned Japan’s ambassador to lodge a complaint, saying Abe had “brazenly offered support” to pro-independence forces in Taiwan.

Xi Jinping, the president of China, told Biden last month that anyone who supports independence forces in Taiwan will “play with fire”.

South Korea’s defense minister declined to say whether the country, a defense ally of the United States, would help defend Taiwan in its conflict with China.

US and South Korean officials also discussed North Korea and agreed to begin the process of updating their plans for any potential military clash. Austin said the allies reaffirmed their position that Pyongyang is “continuing to advance its missile and weapons programs that are increasingly destabilizing regional security.”

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un outlined his nuclear ambitions in January, which include tactical weapons, seabed-launched long-range nuclear weapons and hypersonic weapons. North Korea has since tested submarine-launched ballistic missiles and train-launched ballistic missiles. In September, it claims to have testing a new hypersonic missile that it suggests it is capable of carrying nuclear warheads at long range.

Milley and Austin also discussed the long-term goal of Korea commanding the joint forces that the nations have on the peninsula. The US has about 18,500 troops stationed in South Korea.

Seoul is also pushing Washington to support efforts to declare an end to the Korean War, which ended in an armistice in 1953. The radical government of Moon, whose successor will be elected in March, wants to ensure diplomatic support for the end-declaration of war.

The US has endorsed the idea but has not fully supported it because it does not see its benefits, especially as it struggles to get North Korea to negotiate over its nuclear program.

Follow Demetri Sevastopulo and Christian Davies on Twitter: @dimi and @crsdavies

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