China building mockups resembling US Navy ships for possible target practice: report

Satellite images captured by a Colorado-based company show China has built mock-ups of a pair of U.S. Navy ships for possible target practice for a future naval clash as tensions have risen between the two countries, The Associated Press reported.

The images were captured by satellite imagery company Maxar Technologies on Sunday and show the outlines of a U.S. aircraft carrier and a destroyer sitting on a railway track. 

The Colorado-based company identified the location as Ruoqiang, a Taklamakan Desert county in the northwestern Xinjiang region, according to the AP.

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The independent U.S. Naval Institute (USNI) said on its website the U.S. ship mock-ups are a part of a new target range developed by China’s People’s Liberation Army.

USNI also said it has identified some features on the destroyer which included funnels and a weapons system, the AP reported. 

This comes as China has spent recent years upgrading its military, drawing concern from the U.S., which is at odds with China over a series of political and economic issues. 

The Pentagon reported last month that China is expanding its nuclear force much faster than officials predicted a year ago, the AP reported. 

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

The report also said the nuclear force is designed to help China match or surpass the U.S. by midcentury. 

China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said at a daily briefing Monday that he has no information about the reported images, the AP noted.