A SENIOR US diplomat is warning that the US is unable to defend itself from Chinese and Russian missile systems.
The startling revelation comes just as a report revealed China tested a nuclear-capable hypersonic missile earlier in the year, with the Chinese government claiming it was a spacecraft instead.
"Hypersonic technology is something that we have been concerned about," said Ambassador Robert Wood, a representative of the US at the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva.
"We just don't know how we can defend against that technology, neither does China, neither does Russia."
The nuke-capable missile missed its target by about two-dozen miles when it was secretly launched in August, intelligence sources told the Financial Times.
But the chilling test has alarmed US officials and shows how China has made astonishing progress on the development of its hypersonic weapons, sources said.
A hypersonic missile travels five times faster than the speed of sound and can reach distances of up to 1,500 miles, with Russia using the technology to build cutting-edge missiles in recent years.
"We have seen China and Russia pursuing very actively the use, the militarization of this technology, so we are just having to respond in kind," Wood said.
Instead, China insists the missile test was a "spacecraft."
"This was a routine test of spacecraft to verify technology of spacecraft's reusability," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said. "Several companies around the world have conducted similar tests."
"It is of great significance to reducing the cost of using spacecraft and providing a convenient and cheap way for mankind's two-way transportation in the peaceful use of space."
But Wood argues this type of hypersonic missile is precisely what the US government decided to forego.
"We had held back from pursuing military applications for this technology," Wood said.
However, Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby said that tensions in the region have exacerbated the nation's concerns over military advancements in China.
"We have made clear our concerns about the military capabilities China continues to pursue, capabilities that only increase tensions in the region and beyond," Kirby said.
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