The Financial Times reported that China tested a nuclear-capable hypersonic missile in August.
The FT reported that US intelligence was caught off guard and surprised by China's ability.
But China said on Monday that it was actually testing a space vehicle, and it happened in July.
China denied a Financial Times report that it tested a nuclear-capable hypersonic missile earlier this year, saying it was actually just testing a space vehicle.
Five sources told the FT that China tested a nuclear-capable hypersonic missile in August.
According to the report, the sources said the missile circled the globe in low-orbit space before it sped toward its target. Two sources said the advanced capability came as a surprise to US intelligence, the report said.
But China's foreign ministry denied the report on Monday.
"It was not a missile, it was a space vehicle," ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said, per Reuters, adding that it was a "routine test."
He also said that the test took place in July, and not in August as the FT reported.
He said China was testing the vehicle to see if it can be reused, to see if it can "provide a cheap and convenient method for humans to peacefully travel to and from space," per Reuters.
US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin told a Monday news conference that the US was closely watching China's weapons development, but declined to comment on the FT report, Reuters reported.
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