When we talk about missile defense, it’s most often in reference to U.S. capabilities in this sphere. But in military exercises underway this week, China has demonstrated its own missile defense capability.

During naval drills, China ‘shot down’ an incoming missile, according to Chinese media, in a test that was directed at North Korea:

The drill, which began at midnight and came just two days after Pyongyang conducted its latest nuclear test, challenged a ground unit, under China’s air force, to shoot down simulated low flying missiles in the skies over Bohai Bay, according to a report by the official military news website 81.cn.

The missiles used in the “sudden attack” were shot down at the first attempt by the People’s Liberation Army’s missile force, the report said, without elaborating.

The exercise was the third in the bay area – the innermost gulf of the Yellow Sea between China and North Korea – since late July.

Source: South China Morning Post

Why it’s on our radar: The test, which appears to have been successful if the press account is to be believed, served a dual purpose, as a message to North Korea but also the United States and her allies in the region that Beijing also has a growing missile defense capability, which it has been testing since at least 2013.

However, the test clearly demonstrates Beijing’s growing concern regarding the ability of its erstwhile ally in Pyongyang to not only threaten the U.S. but also its neighbors.

In the face of North Korea’s growing defiance, China seeks to remind its neighbor who the real regional power is.