With the coronavirus dominating the attention of governments around the world, China has taken advantage. It established new research stations on illegal artificial islands in the Paracel and Spratly Islands. It purposely rammed and sank a Vietnamese fishing vessel, began operating various military aircraft from Fiery Cross Reef and increased provocative fighter aircraft patrols around Taiwan. Currently, China is operating one of its government survey ships along with China Coast Guard escorts in the mineral-rich and disputed territorial waters some 200 nautical miles off the coast of East Malaysia in order to harass and bully Malaysian drilling exploration activities.
Additionally, as indicated in a recent U.S. Department of State report, there are signs that Beijing has been preparing to conduct – and has likely already conducted – underground nuclear tests in clear violation of the zero-yield standard that China and the United States signed as part of the 1996 Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT).