China is facing fierce competition with powerful rivals such as the United States and Russia in the development of next-generation missile systems, according to a recent report.
The report was published last week by Beijing Hiwing Scientific and Technological Information Institute.
It highlights hypersonic missiles, long-range cruise missiles, ballistic missiles and cutting-edge precision strike weapons that are being developed or tested by the US, Russia and European nations.
Chinese missiles were not included in the document. The institute is part of the State-owned China Aerospace Science and Industry Corp, the country's largest missile developer.
Nearly half of the report focuses on US efforts. The authors noted on the first page that the US is sparing no effort to develop mid- and long-range weapons for joint strike operations and that "China has become the imaginary enemy for America".
Though the authors did not specify which US missiles they believe will pose the biggest threat to China, the length and appearance in order of each weapon's introduction may provide a clue to their thinking. The first missile mentioned is the High-Speed Strike Weapon; the second is the Long-Range Anti-Ship Missile. Both were said to be under development by the Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency of the US Department of Defence.
Chen Yingshuo, a senior researcher at the institute and the chief writer of the report, said Chinese strategists are convinced that precision weapons, mainly missiles, will play the biggest role in future warfare.
"We must find out what are the weaknesses of our potential enemies' weapons and then use them as part of our countermeasures," he said.
"Clear understanding of yourself and the enemy will lead to victory. That is why we created this report. It will help us understand what others are doing with what missiles, and which countermeasures we will need."
A report carried on Wednesday by The Washington Free Beacon website, citing US military sources, claimed that China has carried out a sixth flight test of its DF-ZF hypersonic glide vehicle, which is designed to defeat US missile defences or carry out global strikes. The DF-ZF flight was tracked by US intelligence agencies and flew at speeds beyond Mach 5, or five times the speed of sound, the website said.
The Chinese military has not confirmed the test.
According to a missile expert with the People's Liberation Army who asked not to be named, China is striving to catch up with the US in next-generation missile technology.
"We are developing some cutting-edge defence technologies like they are doing now, and we have made progress, but the US is still leading the race," the expert said in a phone interview.