The YJ-21 is reportedly a ship-launched version of the ground-based DF-21D missile. China had earlier tested anti-ship ballistic missiles in the Xinjiang desert. US believes China is developing weapons to neutralise American warships. China wants to develop long-range precision strikes against ships
US Navy regularly conducts operations in South China Sea which angers Beijing. China claims the majority of South China Sea islands. Taiwan is another point of friction between the US and China.
China's DF-21D missile
The USNI cited intelligence firm All Source Analysis as saying the area has been used for testing ballistic missiles in the past. However, the Chinese foreign ministry in November had said that it "not aware of the situation".
Beijing is currently on a major arms modernization drive, according to a Pentagon report Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA), with many weapons designed to help neutralise the most important American warships in the event of a regional conflict.
These include the DF-21D missile, which has a range of more than 930 miles (1,500 kilometers), the Pentagon said.
It provides "the capability to conduct long-range precision strikes against ships, including aircraft carriers, out to the Western Pacific from mainland China," the report added.
China has been developing anti-ship missiles for years
China has been developing anti-ship missiles for years, including ones capable of taking out aircraft carriers.
In November satellite pictures showed what appeared to be full-scale outlines of American warships including an aircraft carrier, satellite imagery showed, possible targets to practise striking some of the most potent US weapons deployed in the Pacific.
The US Navy's carrier battle groups - centered around massive aircraft carriers -- are among the most powerful weapons in the American arsenal.
In satellite images captured in November by Maxar Technologies showed huge outlines of American naval vessels were seen in the Taklamakan Desert in China's western Xinjiang region.
They included at least one shaped like an aircraft carrier, and another in the form of a destroyer. One target was seen mounted on a rail transportation system.
"Analysis of historical satellite images shows that the carrier target structure was first built between March and April of 2019," the US Navy report said.
The Chinese military has deployed these missiles in exercises, in what US Navy Admiral Philip Davidson has described as "an unmistakable message to regional and global audiences".
"Their employment during a large-scale PLA exercise demonstrates the PLA's focus on countering any potential third-party intervention during a regional crisis," he had told the US Senate last year.
The US Navy regularly conducts operations in the South China Sea and around Taiwan, angering Beijing.
China claims almost the entirety of the disputed waterway and considers Taiwan to be a part of its territory to be seized one day, by force if necessary.
DF-26 missile can cover South China Sea & Indo-Pacific region
The DF-26 missile with its superior range can cover vast areas in the South China Sea and including the Indo-Pacific region. The intermediate-range ballistic missile was inducted into the Chinese defence forces three years ago
The Chinese defence forces can reportedly fire the missile at an aircraft carrier from a distance of 1000 to 2000 nautical miles.
China has been moving the missiles quite openly this year. The PLA had deployed the DF-26 intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM) to a training site in Shandong province in the east, according to Maxar Technologies Satellite photos.
China's counter-space systems
According to a US report, China and Russia have long recognised and opportunistically sought to exploit vulnerabilities of the US Department of Defence’s space forces.
The DOD in its report had said China is the “most immediate and serious threat” to US national security objectives in space.
A report noted that during "Operation Desert Storm China’s military leaders noted that space systems provided US-led coalition forces with precision navigation and enhanced command and control across challenging terrain."
The report said China has rapidly fielded multiple space and counter-space systems with the intent to surpass and eventually gain military superiority over the United States.