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One of those dots is centered in southern New Hampshire, in the area of Nashua.

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"I think those are urban centers," he said. "I have no idea what they are. It didn't explain."

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Fravel said the map didn't appear online until a few days later, when it was published by the Global Times alongside the other photos.

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Although the city is home to one of the country's largest defense contractors Omega Seamaster Professional Planet Ocean Price

Fravel said tabloid journalism also played a role in helping the phony map begin to circulate in the United States. It appears The Washington Times, the conservative newspaper founded in the 1980s by the Rev. news outlet to feature the map in a story. nuclear deterrence in the Pacific," Yu wrote, citing the Global Times.

BAE Systems Nashua's other strategic advantages weren't immediately apparent to the people who responded.

What "is in Nashua that makes it a nuke worthy target?" the commenter asked. "I mean, (Portsmouth Naval Shipyard) is a far more worthy nuke target. And no Boston? What are those Chinese thinking?"

Early Monday morning, several major Chinese news outlets published stories about the government's recent decision to begin using a fleet of aging nuclear submarines to patrol the seas off China's coast.

"These dots don't make any sense," Fravel said. geography, Fravel said, since the supposed targets include rural parts of New Hampshire, Vermont and Massachusetts, avoiding population centers such as Boston.

Despite the ambiguity surrounding the map, readers of The Washington Times quickly jumped to conclusions about the ominous black dots.

Reached by phone on Friday, Yu said the map attached to his column came directly from the Global Times article. He said it was labeled by the Chinese newspaper as a target analysis showing projected damage from a nuclear strike in Seattle. Yu was uncertain what the black dots on the map are supposed to show.

The story was accompanied by a photo series showing Chinese sailors at work aboard the ships, attending to nuclear waste, swabbing the decks and performing other duties.

While the map has been gaining attention on the Internet, Taylor Fravel, associate professor of political science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, believes the graphic was created by tabloid journalists and not the Chinese government.

"I would say the numbers are pretty small. We're talking maybe 40," he said.

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Despite rumors circulating on the Internet that Nashua is in the cross hairs of the Chinese military, residents of the Gate City probably don't need to worry about a nuclear strike anytime soon.

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Despite its dubious quality, the map has its roots in a legitimate news story that appeared in China's state run media last week.

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The map shows bands of orange and red stretching all the way from the West Coast to Chicago, supposedly depicting the fallout from a nuclear strike near Seattle. The map also contains 21 black dots arranged across the country, which some have interpreted to be China's strategic targets.

Another clue that the map is suspicious is that it was published by the Global Times, an English language Chinese newspaper that Fravel said has a reputation of playing loose with the facts. While the paper has ties to the government, Fravel said the ruling party wouldn't turn to the Global Times Omega Seamaster Electric Blue Quartz

"Why destroy all that infrastructure when they don't have to?" one person wrote. "They don't want to destroy us, they want to own us."

"Global Times is known as being a bit more nationalistic than the mainstream state media," he said. "It has tabloid quality. It's a big moneymaker. I sort of think of it as the New York Post of Chinese official state media. That surely doesn't represent the views of the state."

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China likely not targeting Nashua with nuclear missile

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Fravel, who specializes in China and its military, said he knew immediately when the graphic was published earlier last week that it should be taken with a grain of salt.

A graphic appearing on several English language websites last week purports to reveal China's nuclear targets in the United States.

the Global Times report portrayed China's nuclear strike capabilities as a new development, Fravel said China has actually possessed long range missiles capable of striking the East Coast of the United States since the 1990s.

"The state would not release anything through the Global Times," Fravel said.

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