As Sino-American relations are dropping to an all-time low amidst boiling tensions in the Taiwan strait, the USS Ronald Reagan Carrier Group returned to the South China Sea. The move follows a viscerally negative reaction from Beijing about a possible visit to Taiwan by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, who would be the highest ranking U.S. official in twenty-five years to make an official visit.
Pelosi was expected to lead a congressional delegation to Taiwan’s capital Taipei during her upcoming tour of Asia that also includes stops in Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea and Japan.
Taiwanese forces have been readying the de facto sovereign nation’s defenses in light of escalating threats from Beijing according to reports from The Mirror. Officers of the Taiwanese National Defense Ministry have been recalled from leave, and Air Defense Forces have been briefed to “prepare for war.”
While the US Navy’s Seventh Fleet has confirmed the deployment of the USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) and her strike group to patrol the area’s strategically crucial trade routes, they didn’t comment on questions regarding the military or diplomatic fallout of Pelosi’s planned visit.
“USS Ronald Reagan and her strike group are underway, operating in the South China Sea following a successful port visit to Singapore,” Commander Hayley Sims told Reuters in a statement, adding the ship “is continuing normal, scheduled operations as part of her routine patrol in support of a free and open Indo-Pacific.”
For this year’s annual Han Kuang military exercises in #Taiwan, I boarded a destroyer to watch our Navy & Air Force in action. Their execution of a range of live-fire drills gives me confidence in our military’s ability & determination to respond to any contingency. pic.twitter.com/ER7IbC9Eru
— 蔡英文 Tsai Ing-wen (@iingwen) July 26, 2022
Then and Now.
Join us in celebrating the 19th anniversary of USS Ronald Reagan’s commissioning as we operate forward, supporting our allies and partners in the Indo-Pacific region.#WeAreReagan #HappyBirthday #commissioningday pic.twitter.com/mkysH8fa6d
— USS Ronald Reagan (@Gipper_76) July 12, 2022
Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian, however, was quick to comment on the matter during a regularly scheduled briefing on Thursday, immediately painting the United States as a regional aggressor. “It is clear from this for everyone to see who is the biggest threat to the South China Sea and the Asian region’s peace and stability,”
The USS Ronald Reagan sits at the head of Carrier Strike Group Five and is currently the only U.S. Carrier home-ported out of Yokosuka, Japan. Carrier Strike Group Five includes three Ticonderoga-Class Aegis Cruisers, as well as the seven permanently assigned Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers of Destroyer Squadron 15.
Not just Ronald Reagan carrier strike group is near Taiwan: Amphibious Assault Group Tripoli (LHA7) near Taiwan now too pic.twitter.com/8v1GMJ9Kj7
— zerohedge (@zerohedge) August 1, 2022
According to Reuters, “News of the deployment of the Japan-based carrier comes as Beijing and Washington trade diplomatic blows over Pelosi’s visit, reportedly due to take place next month after being postponed earlier in the year. Pelosi has not confirmed the possible trip.”
As the trip has been confirmed by both Taiwanese sources and by an unnamed U.S. official as reported by CNN in spite of concerns from high-ranking Biden administration officials who believe the move could escalate the already dicey situation with Beijing.
We urge the US and Japan not to incite division & confrontation in the name of cooperation & dialogue. pic.twitter.com/Sb8p01leCU
— Spokesperson发言人办公室 (@MFA_China) August 1, 2022
The Chinese Communist government has offered a stern rebuke to even the consideration of such a visit, citing the “egregious political impact” of it and reiterating that the Chinese military “won’t sit by idly” should they feel their “sovereignty and territorial integrity” are threatened.
Zhao told the gathered press, “We would like to tell the U.S. once again that China is standing by, and the Chinese People’s Liberation Army will never sit idly by. China will take resolute responses and strong countermeasures to defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
“As for what measures, if she dares to go, then let’s wait and see,” Zhao added.
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