China will test its new the Dongfeng-21D anti-ship ballistic missile, the country's state media said Friday. There is speculation that Beijing is responding to the U.S. deployment of the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier George Washington to the West Sea and the South China Sea to join naval exercises with Korea and Vietnam, which China considers too close for comfort.
Internet China National Radio said the China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation will soon test-fire "a weapon under an important state weapons project."
Although it did not specify what this project was, it carried a photo of a Dongfeng-21C medium-range ballistic missile, the same series as the Dongfeng-21D, and an artist's drawing of such missiles attacking an American aircraft carrier.
China has neither confirmed nor denied reports by U.S. and European media that it finished developing the Dongfeng-21D and would test-fire it this year. Diplomats in Beijing speculate that the announcement is a warning to the U.S. over its dispatch of the aircraft carrier.
The Dongfeng-21D is a medium-range ballistic missile with a range of 1,300-1,800 km and is capable of carrying six warheads weighing up to 450 kg. It is being described as an "aircraft carrier killer" because it can sink the ship instantly as it penetrates the ship's outer hull and explodes inside the carrier.
Hong Kong's Wen Wei Po daily ran a headline story the same day that said, "If China attacks a U.S. aircraft carrier with a Dongfeng-21, the U.S. will counterattack with a nuclear weapon," citing an unnamed U.S. admiral.