Satellite photographs indicate China appears to have built full-scale mock-ups of US warships in a desert in the country’s northwestern Xinjiang region.
In one of the photographs acquired by US satellite technology company Maxar, a building fashioned like a military aircraft carrier is built on rail tracks in one of the photographs.
The structures seemed to be military targets, according to USNI News, a site dedicated to the US Navy. For many years, Beijing has been developing and testing anti-ship ballistic missiles.
As tensions in the South China Sea rise, the US has cautioned that China has been quickly upgrading its military, including nuclear capabilities, in recent months.
According to USNI News on Sunday, the structures seen in the Taklamakan Desert appeared to have the flat outlines of US military warships without guns or other specifics.
A report says, the photographs appeared to depict mock-ups of an aircraft carrier and at least two US Navy destroyers. China was suspected of conducting a nuclear-capable hypersonic missile test earlier this year, which alarmed Washington. Hypersonic missiles can travel at more than five times the speed of sound in the upper atmosphere.Later, Beijing refuted the claims, saying it was only a normal spacecraft inspection.
The US Navy conducts what it calls “normal missions” with armed ships in the South China Sea, which is one of the world’s most contested areas. The majority of the region is claimed by China, while neighbouring countries, including the United States, disagree.
The region is part of a significant shipping route that transports about $3 trillion (£2.2 trillion) in annual trade.
For decades, the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan, and Vietnam have all contested China’s claim to practically all of the sea, but tensions have progressively risen in recent years.
In this territorial conflict, the United States has backed many of these countries.