As President Trump is set to make his first state visit to China, the government has unveiled a “massive island maker” vessel, signaling that Beijing has every intention of continuing to build (and claim) new ‘islands’ in the South China Sea.

The ship is said to be capable of building artificial islands of the kind China has already built in the contested body of water. It was launched Friday at a port in the eastern part of Jiangsu province, the state-run China Daily reported.

The vessel named Tian Kun Hao is reportedly capable of digging several thousand cubic feet per hour.

The ship is a larger version of a similar vessel China used to build its current slate of enhanced archipelagos that are now supporting military installations. It will be the biggest vessel of its kind in Asia.

Analyst comment: This isn’t going to help U.S.-China relations in the region, to say nothing of China’s relations with its neighbors. 

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