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US Watching China Closely After Reports of Hypersonic Missile Test  


U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin speaks to the media during a joint news conference with Georgian Minister of Defense Juansher Burchuladze after their talks in Tbilisi, Georgia, Oct. 18, 2021.

The top U.S. military official said Washington is paying close attention to China’s efforts to build up its own military arsenal, although he declined to comment on reports that Beijing took a major step forward two months ago by testing a hypersonic missile.

U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin told reporters during a visit to Tblisi, Georgia Monday that China remains his “pacing challenge” and that its military advances are a topic of concern.

“We watch closely China's development of armament and advanced capabilities and systems that will only increase tensions in the region," he said, without offering additional details.

The Financial Times reported Saturday that China had tested a nuclear-capable hypersonic missile in August, catching U.S. military and intelligence officials by surprise.

But China on Monday denied it carried out a hypersonic missile test, saying it actually tested a reusable spacecraft.

Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said the spacecraft technology could allow for reduced costs and provide an affordable way for humans to peacefully use space.

Some information for this report came from the Associated Press, AFP and Reuters.