Satellite images show the Chinese military used models of United States warships while conducting ballistic missile tests.
Context: Tensions between the United States and China have been heightened because of recent conflict in Taiwan and the South China Sea. China has been involved in ongoing territorial disputes with Taiwan and other smaller Asian countries for some time now. Taiwan has steadfastly reiterated it is a sovereign country.
Details: According to a report by Bloomberg News, satellite images depict targets in the shape of a carrier and two Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers at a testing facility in the Ruoqiang area of Xinjiang’s Taklamakan desert, the news website of the U.S. Naval Institute reported. Both types of vessels are deployed by the U.S. Seventh Fleet, which patrols the Western Pacific including the waters around Taiwan.
The images were reportedly taken in October.
Why It Matters: The military drill shows how rapidly China is developing its military capabilities in a quest to shift the global balance of power.
For decades, America has held the stance of the world’s foremost economic and military power. A shift to China could upend alliances in the Indo-Pacific region at a time when U.S. and Chinese militaries are increasingly clashing in the South China Sea, according to The Hill.
What China Says: Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin claimed to be unaware of the images.
What the U.S. Says: Many see the military drills as a clear act of aggression and are concerned over China’s recent military buildup.
Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Mark Milley said that China is clearly attempting to challenge the U.S. for power.
“They are clearly challenging us regionally and their aspiration is to challenge the United States globally,” said Gen Milley.
Last Wednesday Gen. Milley said, “Today [China] has capabilities in space and cyber, land, sea, air, undersea, and they are clearly challenging us regionally. … So we have a case here of a country that is becoming extraordinarily powerful, that wants to revise the international order to their advantage. That’s going to be a real challenge over the coming years. In the next 10, 20 years. That’s going to be really significant for the United States.”