China surprised US officials by testing a new hypersonic missile in August that went around the globe before it made its way toward the intended target, The Financial Times reported on Saturday.

Two sources quoted in the report said that China made “astounding progress on hypersonic weapons and was far more advanced than US officials realized.”

China has tested 79 Long March 2C rockets that carry the missiles so far, according to the China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology. Five people with knowledge of the launch told the outlet that the missile flew in low orbit before going down toward its target, which it missed by 24 miles

John Kirby, the press secretary for the Department of Defense, said the United States sees China as the No. 1 “pacing challenge” as the two countries work toward developing hypersonic weapons that travel at five times the speed of sound.

“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.

Liu Pengyu, a spokesperson for the Chinese Embassy in London, said the country’s military policy was “defensive in nature.”

“We don’t have a global strategy and plans of military operations like the US does. And we are not at all interested in having an arms race with other countries,” added Liu.

The Pentagon has not commented on the report.

Report: China surprised US with missile test

Josh Toupos

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