Dozens of Chinese ships are exercising this week with an aircraft carrier in a show of force off Hainan Island in the South China Sea.  Pictures, provided by Planet Labs Inc, show a Chinese carrier group has entered the trade route as part of combat drills.  The Chinese navy claims the movements are part of routine annual exercises, according to Reuters.

The Liaoning carrier group last week traversed the Taiwan Strait, according to the Taiwanese defense ministry. The photos, taken yesterday, show what appear to be at least 40 ships and submarines flanking the carrier Liaoning in what some analysts described as an unusually large display of China’s expanding fleet. They have emerged less than a week after Chinese President Xi Jinping said his country is prepared to fight bloody battles to retain its right as a superpower.  READ MORE