China staged a test flight of its first stealth fighter jet on Tuesday, according to online news sites and Internet blogs.
Although the government and the military have yet to formally confirm the news, an official with the Ministry of National Defense seemed to corroborate it.
Asked by the media to confirm the test flight at a news conference, Guan Youfei, deputy director of the ministry's foreign affairs office, said: "As for the event you mentioned, it is not targeted at any country or particular target, nor does it intentionally coincide with the visit by US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. It was a normal and routine arrangement.
"China has developed some weaponry to safeguard its national sovereignty, security and territorial integrity ... China's military development must be correctly assessed."
Gates told reporters after talks with President Hu Jintao that the maiden test flight of the advanced J-20 fighter jet prototype was part of their discussions.
Gates said Hu told him that the maiden test flight was not timed to coincide with his visit.
"I asked President Hu about it directly, and he said that the test had absolutely nothing to do with my visit and had been a pre-planned test. And that's where we left it," Gates was quoted as saying by Reuters.
Asked to comment on reports about the test flight which took off in Chengdu, Sichuan province, Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei sidestepped the question.
He said it is "quite normal" for any country to update its weaponry, and China has done so based on "its own security and defense needs" and "no particular country is targeted".
The test flight of the two-engine, fourth generation radar-eluding fighter, which lasted 15 minutes, has been hailed by Chinese aviation enthusiasts and military fans as a glorious chapter in the history of the country's aviation industry and in the modernization drive of the People's Liberation Army (PLA).
1. What type of jet made a test flight?
2. What can the jet elude?
3. Which US official was visiting China at the time?
1. J20 stealth fighter jet.
3. US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates.
（中国日报网英语点津 Helen 编辑）
Todd Balazovic is a reporter for the Metro Section of China Daily. Born in Mineapolis Minnesota in the US, he graduated from Central Michigan University and has worked for the China Daily for one year.