China has tested a new type of guided missile in the Korean peninsula amid heightened tensions in the region.

The country's defence ministry said that the test in the Bohai Sea, off China's northeast coast, was carried out to "raise the operational capability of the armed forces and effectively respond to threats to national security".

The statement did not specify exactly when the test took place, only that it was "in recent days".

"The test achieved the expected result," the statement added. It did not elaborate on the type of missile or what it was fired from.

It came as South Korea elected left-leaning Moon Jae-in as its next president following the ousting of Park Geun-hye in the country's biggest ever corruption scandal.

Moon has pledged to build a closer relationship with North Korea at a time when both countries, alongside China and the US, are interlocked in complex diplomatic tussles over Pyongyang's recent missile tests and ongoing nuclear programme.

Complicating matters further, the US sent numerous warships to the Korean peninsula and has recently installed the THAAD anti-missile defence system in South Korea.

That installation angered China which sees its deployment as a threat to regional security by tipping the existing balance of power. Beijing also believes that THAAD's X-band radar could be used to spy on China and its military movements.

The US maintains that the sole purpose of THAAD is to counter any threats from North Korea.

The system, which is not yet fully operational, is designed to intercept and destroy short-range and medium-range ballistic missiles during their last phase of flight.

bohai sea
A live-fire drill using an aircraft carrier in the Bohai Sea Reuters