China has reportedly tested an anti-ship missile in the ‘contested waters’ of the South China Sea over the weekend.
The news of missile firing was first reported by NBC News and CNBC.
Citing two unidentified US officials, the report stated that China is preparing to conduct a series of anti-ship ballistic missile tests in the South China Sea.
As part of this plan, at least one missile was fired into the sea, one official confirmed.
The country had planned further tests before the testing window closed on 3 July.
The US Department of Defense has condemned the Chinese missile testing, stating that such military moves could harm peace in the region.
Pentagon spokesman lieutenant colonel Dave Eastburn was quoted by CNBC as saying: “Of course the Pentagon was aware of the Chinese missile launch from the man-made structures in the South China Sea near the Spratly Islands.
“What’s truly disturbing about this act is that it’s in direct contradiction to President Xi’s statement in the Rose Garden in 2015 when he pledged to the US, the Asia-Pacific region, and the world, that he would not militarise those man-made outposts.”
The US and China have been involved in a trade war that threatened to affect the global economy. Efforts to put an end to the trade dispute started earlier this year.
Over the weekend, the heads of the two countries met during the G-20 summit in Japan to resume talks to resolve the dispute.
China claims sovereignty over a vast area of the South China Sea. Other Asian countries that are claimants to the disputed territory include the Philippines, Vietnam and Taiwan.
In 2016, the Philippines achieved a legal victory when the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague, Netherlands, rejected China’s claims of sovereignty over the South China Sea.
The court ruling failed to put an end to sporadic instances of provocative measures in the disputed area.
In 2017, the US Navy sent its Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 1 to the South China Sea for routine patrolling operations.
In May, the service conducted freedom of navigation operations in the region.