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China conducts successful third anti-missile test

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BEIJING (PTI): China on Wednesday said it successfully conducted a land-based anti-missile test, stated to be the third of its kind, as part of its efforts to build a missile shield to intercept incoming warheads.

Chinese military forces conducted a "land-based anti-missile technology experiment," the Ministry of National Defence announced.

The experiment "achieved the desired objectives," it said, without giving details, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.

Last January, China conducted its second interceptor missile test.

Xinhua reported at that time that "the test has reached the pre-set goal" and quoted experts as saying that the test could build shield for China's air defence by intercepting incoming warheads such as ballistic missiles in space.

Wednesday's anti-missile test came as Chinese military was preparing to conduct major defence exercises which already affected air traffic in 12 airports.

Flights in and out of airports in the country's east - including Shanghai, Nanjing and Wuhan - would be affected from last Sunday until August 15 by the "high-frequency drills of another user", Hong Kong based South China Morning Post quoted the China Civil aviation regulator as saying.

In the last two days more than 290 flights at Shanghai's two airports were delayed or cancelled.

Shanghai-based China Eastern Airlines alone had cancelled 22 flights in and out of the affected airports early Tuesday morning, the company said, according to the Post report.

Ni Lexiong, a Shanghai-based military affairs commentator, said large-scale military drills centred on the east of the country were needed because it would probably be the first target of any foreign forces attacking China.

China currently involved in a political showdown with Japan over the disputed islands as well as Tokyo's plans to rescind on its pacifist constitution.

The navies and military planes of the two countries were aggressively patrolling the disputed Diaoyu islands.

Disrupting the operation of 12 civilian airports meant the drills had to be very large-scale, Ni said.

The other affected airports are in Hangzhou, Hefei, Jinan, Wuxi, Ningbo, Qingdao, Lianyungang and Zhengzhou.

Chinese military flight drills could hurt airlines and drive airfares up, analysts say Xinhua reported that the People's Liberation Army had organised 10 live ammunition drills for its ground forces at six bases around the country since July 15.

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