Satellite images from an American company showed, this Sunday (7), that China has built life-size models of a Navy aircraft carrier and other US warships in the Xinjiang desert.
The models, possibly developed to serve as a training object, reflect Beijing’s efforts to improve its defenses against naval forces, especially US, as tensions remain high with Washington in the Taiwan and South China Sea region.
The Maxar company’s satellite records showed life-size models of a US aircraft carrier and at least two destroyers built in what appears to be a new military complex in Taklamakan, one of the world’s largest deserts in northwestern China.
The images also showed a 20-foot-wide railroad on which there was a ship-sized target — which experts say can be used to simulate a vessel in motion.
According to the US Naval Institute, the complex was used for testing ballistic missiles. “The analysis of historical satellite images shows that the aircraft carrier model was initially built between March and April 2019,” says the agency’s report.
“It went through several reconstructions and was almost completely dismantled in December 2019. But the site was back in operation at the end of September this year and the structure was practically completed by the beginning of October”.
Asked on Monday (8) about the images, the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman, Wang Wenbin, said he was not aware of the situation.
China, land in the middle
In China, anti-ship missile programs are overseen by the People’s Liberation Army Rocket Force (PLARF).
According to the Pentagon’s latest annual report, the PLARF conducted its first real fire launch in the South China Sea in July 2020. At the time, six DF-21 ballistic missiles were fired in waters north of the Spratly Islands, where Beijing has territorial disputes with Taiwan and four other Southeast Asian countries.
According to Collin Koh, of the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore, the tests at sea may have shown China that the country is still far from creating an ASMB (anti-ship ballistic missile) with the necessary precision.
“I don’t think the targets in the desert [de Taklamakan] will be the final stage. They are for further refinement,” the researcher told Reuters news agency.
According to Koh, an ASMB test in this territory does not reflect the actual conditions of a marine environment. This would affect sensors and targeting, but would allow China to conduct tests safely.
“The best way to test it and keep it away from the prying eyes of the US military and intelligence resources is to do it in the interior[ofthecountry”Kohsaid[dopaís”disseKoh
Beijing’s military might is a recurring theme in international news, and in recent weeks it has become even more so. Last month, the British newspaper Financial Times reported that China had tested a hypersonic missile in August that circled the Earth before accelerating towards its target, which would have surprised US intelligence.
Beijing denied the report and said that what was tested was a rover, not a missile.
Days later, China and Russia sent ten warships for the first time to cross the strait that separates the two main islands of the Japanese archipelago, which was seen as a direct provocation to the US and Japan in the Pacific.
In the field of speeches, President Joe Biden sought to make a show of strength by saying, in an interview with CNN, that the US would defend Taiwan from an eventual Chinese invasion. The speech touched a sore point for Beijing, which considers Taiwan a rebel province and often accuses Washington and its Western allies of interfering in an issue that concerns only China.
“When it comes to issues related to China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and other fundamental interests, there is no room for compromises or concessions,” said Wang Wenbin, a spokesman for Beijing’s diplomacy at the time. “And no one should underestimate the Chinese people’s strong determination, unwavering will and great ability to defend their national sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
In late October, Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen also gave an interview to the American press and confirmed reports that more than 20 US special operations members and a contingent of Marines have been in Taiwanese territory for more than a year. . The statement came within weeks of the largest air raid in Chinese history against Taipei’s defenses.
Regional tension has translated into threats. Last week, Chinese officials said they would criminally punish Taiwanese pro-independence politicians and activists “for the rest of their lives” in a rhetorical escalation that has not been seen in years. The country has not ruled out the use of force to bring the island under its control, despite the Taiwanese government’s assertion that it is an independent nation and that it will defend its freedom and democracy.