India reportedly tested a long-range ballistic missile last week, the subcontinent’s fifth such test, which traveled 3,000 miles and is capable of reaching China.
The “successfully met” ballistic missile test, which is capable of carrying a nuclear weapon, arrives in the midst of a several-months-long military stand-off between India and China over the Doklam Plateau in the Himalayas. The last time both nations fought a border war was in 1962. The dispute has never been resolved.
Shortly after Thursday’s missile test, China’s state-owned newspaper the Global Times published a column arguing that India’s test “poses a direct threat to China’s security as well as a big challenge to the global efforts of nuclear-nonproliferation,” and reportedly called for increasing China’s military presence in the Indian Ocean to counter India’s presence there.
The piece nonetheless dismissed the missile, citing Chinese experts.
“Though the missile could theoretically hit Beijing, India’s missile technique is far below the standard,” Hu Zhiyong, a research fellow at the Institute of International Relations of the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, reportedly told the Global Times in an attempt to downplay the threat.
In 2012, Du Wenlong, a researcher at the Chinese Academy of Military Science, reportedly told the Global Times India had “deliberately downplayed” Agni 5’s capacity to “avoid causing concern.”
“If there are hostilities, and if there are contingencies, then India has something which can deter China or at least make China think twice,” Nitin A. Gokhale, a New Delhi-based national security analyst, told the New York Times. Adding to that, the Times noted that Saurav Jha wrote in the Delhi Defense Review that the development of the Agni 5 “marks the arrival of India as a missile power.”
According to the Global Times, India’s missile test took place one day after India’s joint sea drills with Japan in the Indian Ocean.