Red China: Fire Arrow

The Chinese invented explosives in the 9th century A.D., and the rocket 200 years later. Last week, a millennium after those breakthroughs, China announced it had brought both weapons together for the first time. Over the wind-whipped desert of Takla Makan, Peking claimed, a Chinese Communist A-bomb was carried aloft by a Chinese Communist missile and exploded some 500 miles away.

First news of the successful missile shot was flashed over Radio Peking in the dead of night. As if by Maoist magic, the Gate of Heavenly Peace was instantly floodlit, and a...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now

Subscribe
Subscribe

Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on TIME.com

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!