Recent satellite photos from Colorado-based Maxar Technologies show that China has built mock-ups of U.S. Navy ships in the Taklamakan desert in Xinjiang, northwest China. The images, dated from Sunday, reveal the outline of a U.S. Navy aircraft carrier and destroyer sitting on a railway track in the desert. The ships’ existence has raised concerns that China may be practicing for future attacks against U.S. vessels. The spokesperson for China's foreign ministry, Wang Wenbin, denied any knowledge about the ships or their purpose.

Zoom Out: China has been upgrading its military in the last few years, developing missiles that could repel naval vessels from other nations. They have even tested a hypersonic weapon capable of partially orbiting Earth before re-entering the atmosphere to glide on a maneuverable path towards its target. U.S. officials are primarily concerned with China’s intentions on the status of Taiwan, which it says is an independent and sovereign nation, but has threatened to use military force in order to “fullfill reunification.” The U.S. provides Taiwan with much of its weaponry and is committed to helping the island defend itself.

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