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Chinese military plane boosts nation's global reach

The Y-20 was likely to take at least another five years to enter operational service, he added, and its design appeared to incorporate features from the world's most advanced military cargo plane, the U.S.-made Boeing C-17 Globemaster.

But Chang said that the C-17 was a “much better plane,” one of the reasons being that it apparently uses a much higher proportion of lightweight composite materials, which China struggles to produce.

The U.S. Air Force says on its website that it has more than 200 C-17s in its inventory.

Also at the weekend, China announced a successful land-based missile interception test following an earlier one in 2010, the official news agency Xinhua reported.

“The test has reached the preset goal,” it quoted a defense ministry official as saying, without giving detailed information. “The test is defensive in nature and targets no other country.”

In a commentary Monday on the launch, Xinhua said the test, together with “a string of other military equipment progress” including the aircraft carrier and the heavy-lift plane, demonstrated China's “fast-growing ability to defend its own national security and deter any possible threats.”

But it added that the advances were purely defensive, denying any “ill-grounded 'China threat theory.'”

China more than doubled its publicly declared military spending from 2006 to 2012, roughly in line with economic growth, but rattling its neighbors in Asia. It insists its army expenditure is not aimed at any other country.

China is currently locked in a bitter dispute over the sovereignty of the Tokyo-controlled Senkaku islands, which Beijing calls the Diaoyus, in the East China Sea.

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