Satellite images show that China has built models of American warships

Maxar identified the location as Ruoqiang, a province in the Taklamakan Desert in northwestern Xinjiang region.

The independent US Naval Institute said on its website that the mock-ups of US ships were part of a new target being developed by the People’s Liberation Army.

It was not clear from the images how much detail was included in the apparent targets, although USNI said it had identified features of the destroyer, including its funnels and weapon systems.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said at a daily briefing Monday that he had no information about the images, saying: “I am not aware of the situation you mentioned.”

China’s massive military upgrade has placed emphasis on countering the naval forces of the US and other countries.

That includes the development of land-, sea- and air-launched missiles to repel and possibly sink enemy ships, most emphatically expressed by the land-based DF-21D ballistic missile known as the carrier killer.

In recent months there has also been a significant increase in Chinese military flights just southwest of Taiwan, the self-governing island republic claimed by Beijing and threatening to annex it by force. Washington supplies Taiwan with many of its weapons and US law requires it to ensure that the island can defend itself and treat threats as matters of “serious concern.”

The images released by Maxar come amid growing concerns over the possibility of a military conflict between the world’s two largest economies, who disagree over a litany of political and economic issues.

The Pentagon released a report this month saying that China is expanding its nuclear power much faster than US officials predicted just a year ago. That appears to be intended to allow Beijing to match or surpass US global power by mid-century, the report said.

US defense officials have said they are increasingly wary of China’s intentions, especially regarding Taiwan’s status.

β€œThe PLA’s evolving capabilities and concepts continue to amplify (China’s) ability to ‘fight and win wars’ against a ‘strong enemy’ β€” a likely euphemism for the United States,” the report said.

The Chinese Navy and Coast Guard are also adding new ships at a record pace and concentrating them in the South China Sea, the strategic waterway that China claims almost entirely.

While the US Navy predominates, its resources are distributed across the Indo-Pacific, the Persian Gulf, the Mediterranean and other regions where US interests lie.

China’s test of a hypersonic weapon that can partially orbit Earth before re-entering the atmosphere and sliding toward its target on a manoeuvrable path also surprised US military leaders. Beijing insisted it was testing a reusable space vehicle, not a missile, but the weapons system’s design is designed to evade US missile defenses.

Gene. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the test came “very close” to a “Sputnik moment,” similar to the 1957 Soviet Union’s launch of the world’s first space satellite, which would fueled the fears of the United States. States had fallen behind technologically.

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