It was a land-based mid-course missile tested within China’s borders, the ministry said in a brief statement, adding the test was defensive in nature and not targeted against any country.
Anti-ballistic missile systems are meant to shield a country from potential attacks by using projectiles to intercept incoming missiles, including intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs). Some analysts liken it to shooting down a bullet with another bullet.
This marks China’s sixth known test of a land-based anti-ballistic missile, according to state-run tabloid Global Times. The country has been conducting such tests since 2010, typically holding them every few years.
Before Sunday, China last launched an anti-ballistic missile test in February 2021, according to state media.
The test comes amid rising tensions in the region, with a recent spate of missile tests from North Korea including short-range ballistic missiles and a presumed ICBM. South Korean and US officials have also warned that renewed activity at North Korea’s nuclear test site suggests the country could conduct a nuclear test any day — its first since 2017.
South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol, who took office in May, has vowed to take a tougher stance on North Korea — and suggested he would seek to install a second anti-ballistic missile system.
In 2016, when South Korea announced it would deploy the US-built Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) defense system, it sparked a year-long diplomatic feud with China, which argued the missile defense system would jeopardize its own national security.
THAAD is designed to shoot down short, medium and intermediate ballistic missiles and is used by the US military to protect units in places like Guam and Hawaii.
Earlier in May, China criticized the United States for deploying medium-range ballistic missiles in the Asia Pacific region, saying it made a “gravely negative impact” on international arms control.