China launched a new spacecraft that could be used to destroy satellites, according to the US.

Beijing launched the Shijian-21 satellite into orbit Sunday aboard a Long March rocket. It claimed that the mission will test ‘technologies… to neutralise space debris’.

Washington claims that the same technology can be used ‘grapple’ or destroyed by other satellites. This is part of China’s strategy to attain’superiority through Space-attack Systems’.

The launch was made public just before Xi Jinping spoke at a Beijing military conference this week. He encouraged scientists to break new ground’ in the development of weapons to create a world-class’ army.   

China launched the Shijian 21 satellite into orbit on Sunday (pictured), saying it will test technology to clear space debris - the same tech the US warns can destroy other satellites

China launched the Shijian 21 satellite into orbit on Sunday (pictured), saying it will test technology to clear space debris – the same tech the US warns can destroy other satellites

The launch came as Xi Jinping called on the military to 'break new ground' in developing weapons and praised progress made in the last five years

The launch was made as Xi Jinping urged the military to ‘break ground’ in weapon development and praised the achievements of the past five years.

Xi, the man who has overseen a major overhaul China’s military’s military since 2012, praised the progress made in the past five years – claiming that new technology has been crucial to enhancing China’s military might.

China is believed to have launched the Shijian 21 satellite as well as the Shijian 21 satellite. Analysts believe that a new type of hypersonic missile could be launched into space. It could be tipped by a nuke.

The weapon was tested twice by Beijing, once in July and again last August. The news of the tests was only released last week by journalists after intelligence sources shared the information with them.

The new “weapon” is still being assessed by those charged with its assessment. However, they claim it appears to ‘defy physics’ and go beyond anything the US has created.

China’s launch vehicle orbited the Earth at high speeds before it hit a target, which it missed by around 24 miles, analysts stated.

It appears to be similar in appearance to a Soviet nuclear system from Cold War called FOBS, which was designed to evade nuclear defenses. 

Beijing acknowledged the existence of one test, but denied that it launched a weapon. The craft was intended for civilian use. 

China is thought to have carried out two tests of a hypersonic orbital nuke - the first on July 27 and the second on August 13 this year. Observers believe the 'weapon' is an updated version of a Soviet concept called a 'Fractional Orbital Bombardment System', or FOBS. It is designed to evade powerful US radar systems and anti-missile defences designed to shoot down traditional ICBMs by flying in low-Earth orbit, making it harder to spot, track and destroy

China is believed have conducted two tests on a hypersonic orbital nuclear nuke. The first was on July 27th, and the second was on August 13th. According to observers, the weapon is an updated Soviet concept known as a ‘Fractional Orbital Bombardment System,’ or FOBS. It is designed for evade US radar systems and anti missile defences. 

Beijing has launched one ‘debris-clearing’ satellite before – Shijian 17 which went into space back in 2016.

Although officially designated as a communication satellite for ‘observing’ space debris and not for actual use, the US claims it is actually equipped a robotic arm.

Washington argues that Shijian 17 is in fact a military satellite that is capable of bringing down other orbiting craft.

General James Dickinson, the head of US Space Command, wrote earlier this year to Congress that the satellite “could be used for grappling with other satellites in future.”

China’s military spending has grown in line to its booming economy.

It was approximately $130 billion when Xi assumed leadership of the country in 2012. The 2021 budget was revealed as being almost $210billion in March.

This extra cash was used to build the country’s first aircraft carriers. Nuclear-powered aircraft are also in the works.

China has also produced new tanks and stealth fighter jets, long range bombers, missiles, and drones.

China, the US and Russia are engaged in a global arms race that now includes the development of hypersonic missile technology. Here, the MailOnline has compared (from left) each country's main nuclear weapon, the latest hypersonic technology they have tested, their most up-to-date aircraft carriers, main battle tanks, and cutting-edge jets

The US, Russia and China are all involved in a global arms race which now includes the development hypersonic missile technology. The MailOnline has compared, from left, each country’s main nuclear weapon and the latest hypersonic technology they tested, as well as their most up-to date aircraft carriers, main combat tanks, and cutting edge jets. 

The country is currently undergoing a major upgrade in its nuclear forces. It has shown off new long range ICBMs at a 2019 Military Parade, along with hypersonic nukes warheads.

China is believed to be building 230 silos to house new weaponry. Each silo can contain a nuclear missile with 12 warheads.

Beijing is using its military hardware to be more aggressive with its neighbours. Beijing has imposed its rule on Hong Kong and menacing Taiwan. It also claims vast swathes ocean and is fighting with Indian troops in India’s Himalayas.  

It has constructed new military bases on top uninhabited islands in South China Sea, which it claims to be its own, causing friction with the Philippines and Vietnam, Malaysia, and other countries in the region.

Similar disputes have been started in the East China Sea. This angered Japan. 

Beijing claims its intentions to be peaceful, but Washington has been resisting – building new alliances, such as Australia, Japan, India, and other countries, in an effort to counter China’s growing power.

This has strained relations between Beijing, Washington, and Washington, who are also in fierce economic competition with each other.