Unidentified structures spotted by satellites on the borders of Xinjiang and Gansu Province, China, and posted on the Google Earth Internet service recently are giving rise to speculation about possible military activity, reports say.
The vast structures, all situated in parts of the Gobi used by China for its military, nuclear and space programs, have puzzled analysts. The imagery also leaves unanswered questions over whether the structures are dug in or painted.
Some of the sites observed are situated less than 160km from Jiuquan, where China’s space program and its launchpads are located. The Ding Xin military airbase, where China is believed to conduct classified aircraft tests, is 640km from some of the sites.
One picture taken in 2007 shows an aggregate of orange blocks the size of shipping containers arranged in a circle, with three military aircraft occupying the center. A more recent satellite sweep of the area shows the blocks scattered as far as 4.8km from the site.
Another image shows a series of metallic squares littered with what appears to be the debris of exploded vehicles, lending credibility to claims that some of the structures are used for gunnery or airstrike practice. Other structures consist of kilometers-long grids. With the Lop Nur nuclear test site located about 600km away from some of the structures, some experts have suggested the latter could be optical test ranges for missiles simulating the street grids of cities, with some speculating that this could be a replica of a Washington street layout. Others posit that the grids could be used for satellite calibration.
A defense expert at Jane’s Defence Weekly told the Telegraph that the structures looked similar to the kind of missile test ranges seen in the US, with target and instrumentation used to analyze the effect of missile blasts.
Beijing has yet to comment on the purpose of the structures.
Twice a day Hong Kong’s virtually deserted airport fills with the sound of tearful goodbyes as residents fearful for their future under China’s increasingly authoritarian rule start a new life overseas, mostly in Britain. London flights tend to leave in the afternoon and late evening, and for a few hours it briefly feels like the COVID-19 pandemic no longer exists as the airport comes to life. Check-in desks fill up with crowds of passengers wheeling as much luggage as their tickets will permit. Accompanied by the loved ones they leave behind, the scenes are emotionally charged and shadowed by a palpable pall of
Ethiopia’s Afar region on Friday called on civilians to take up arms against rebels from neighboring Tigray, signaling a potential escalation in fighting that has already displaced tens of thousands this week. “Every Afar should protect their land with any means available, whether by guns, sticks or stones,” regional President Awol Arba said in an interview aired by regional state media. “No weapons can make us kneel down. We will win this war with our strong determination.” Tigrayan rebels launched operations in Afar last weekend, saying they were targeting pro-government troops massing along the two regions’ shared border. A government official said on
A man has confessed to defrauding Chinese-Canadian pop singer Kris Wu (吳亦凡) over a teenager’s accusation that he had sex with her when she was drunk, Beijing police said on Thursday. The announcement added a bizarre twist to a scandal that cost Wu endorsement contracts with brands including Porsche and Bulgari. The former member of South Korean boy band EXO has denied the accusation, which drew an outpouring of online support for the woman and criticism of Wu. On Friday, Louis Vuitton became the latest brand to end its contract with Wu. A man who saw rumors about the incident online contacted the woman
Buried in a long US indictment accusing China of a global cyberespionage campaign was a curious detail: Among the governments targeted by Chinese hackers was Cambodia, one of Beijing’s most loyal Asian allies. The target of the hack, which two sources with knowledge of the indictment said was the Cambodian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, was also revealing: discussions between China and Cambodia over the use of the Mekong River, a new battleground for US and Chinese influence in Southeast Asia. Four Chinese — three security officials and a contract hacker — have been charged for attacks aimed at dozens