Over the weekend, U.S. leaders were shocked to find out that China had launched a nuclear-capable hypersonic missile in August. The confirmation from five unnamed sources to a media outlet had taken U.S. intelligence aback with China's nuclear capabilities.
The Chinese military had allegedly launched a rocket carrying a hypersonic glide vehicle that shot through low-orbit space, rounding out the Earth before heading towards its target, which they missed by just 24 miles.
"The test showed that China had made astounding progress on hypersonic weapons and was far more advanced than U.S. officials realized," the Financial Times revealed. According to CNBC, the U.S. and Russia are in the midst of developing hypersonic missiles and in September, North Korea announced it had test-fired a newly-developed hypersonic missile.
Back in 2019, China showcased its new hypersonic missile, known as the DF-17. Such ballistic missiles fly out to outer space before coming back down to Earth with steep trajectories and higher speeds. Such hypersonic weapons are more difficult to defend against given its behavior and speeds.
For Republican Rep. Michael Waltz of Florida, China's nuclear-capable hypersonic missile test not only means trouble for the U.S., but is also in fact a result of America's negligence when it comes to securing IP or intellectual property.
Rep. Waltz argued that China's nuclear-capable hypersonic missile test and capabilities are "the culmination of multiple decades of the Chinese stealing their way to the top," Breitbart reported. The Republican leader added that what's "frustrating" for him is that U.S. money is fueling China's nuclear progress through Wall Street, Hollywood, sports, and more.
"This is economic warfare," Rep. Waltz warned. "We are awash in Chinese money. We're compromised. We've got to bring that manufacturing back home and protect our intellectual property. Because they're stealing it and turning it against us."
Other GOP leaders have expressed their disapproval over China's nuclear-capable hypersonic missile test, with the top Republican on the House Armed Services Committee, Rep. Mike Gallagher of Wisconsin calling on U.S. leaders to respond to what he described as a "call to action" by the Chinese, the New York Post reported.
Rep. Gallagher underscored the U.S.' "complacent course" which may lead to its defeat in the "New Cold War with Communist China within the decade." The Wisconsin leader described China's People's Liberation Army as having "increasingly credible capability to undermine our missile defenses and threaten the American homeland with both conventional and nuclear strikes."
Meanwhile, China has denied that they had indeed conducted a nuclear-capable hypersonic missile test in August. According to Al Jazeera, Chinese ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian declared during a regular press briefing in Beijing that what they launched "was not a missile, it was a space vehicle."
Zhao corrected reports, adding that the "routine test," which aimed to test technology to reuse the alleged vehicle, was in fact conducted in July and was of "great significance for reducing the use-cost of spacecraft and could provide a convenient and affordable way to make a round trip for mankind's peaceful use of space."