Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin ordered a Navy battle group to remain on station near Taiwan longer than originally planned after China launched massive military exercises in response to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to the island.
The USS Ronald Reagan and the warships that make up the carrier strike group (CSG) will maneuver through the Taiwan Strait, where China launches missiles, “in the coming weeks,” National Security Council Strategic Communications Coordinator John Kirby said. he said Thursday. The task force will monitor activities in the waters surrounding Taiwan, Kirby said, “for a little longer than originally planned.”
“The President thought it was wise to leave [the Reagan] and her escort ships go there a little more,” Kirby said. He declined to give further details. (RELATED: US Deploys Aircraft Carrier on China’s Doorstep as Tensions Rise in Taiwan)
The live-fire drills come in response to Pelosi’s controversial visit to Taiwan, a country China considers a breakaway region but has a distinct relationship with the US, while the White House denied supporting Taiwan independence on Monday, Pelosi reaffirmed her support for a free and democratic government in Taiwan during a meeting with President Tsai Ing-wen on Wednesday.
The upcoming “standardized” passage of the CSG through the Taiwan Strait will be consistent with “the long-standing US approach to defend the freedom of the seas and international law,” Kirby added.
Reagan departed for the South China Sea from the Philippines on July 26 before entering the Philippine Sea, a 2.2 million square mile body of water covering Taiwan, shortly before Aug. 1, USNI mentionted. China began joint military and air drills on August 2, with live-fire drills in six areas around Taiwan scheduled from Thursday to Sunday.
However, the Reagan CSG has been conducting “scheduled operations as part of a routine patrol in support of a free and open Indo-Pacific” since Thursday, a spokesman for the US Navy’s Seventh Fleet told the Daily Caller News Foundation.
Additionally, a Navy spokesman told DCNF Wednesday night that “there have been no changes to the program to report.”
Sailors on the US Navy’s only aircraft carrier @Gipper_76 engaged in flight operations on the ship’s flight deck while underway in the Philippine Sea.#ReaganReady | #Always ready | #FlightOps | #FreeandOpenIndoPacific pic.twitter.com/Q6Sba929i9
— 7th Fleet (@US7thFleet) August 4, 2022
China has sent 68 aircraft and 13 ships since the drills began on Friday morning, some of which crossed the median line in the strait that separates Taiwan from the mainland. according to the Ministry of Defense of Taiwan. There were no unsafe encounters between US and Chinese naval forces operating in the area as of Thursday morning, according to US Naval Institute News mentionted.
A spokesman for the Navy’s Pacific fleet took DCNF to the White House in response to Kirby’s comments.
“We are prepared for whatever China can do,” Kirby said at the briefing on Thursday, adding that the US can use various means to put pressure on China.
The US did not deploy additional military forces to the Asia-Pacific ahead of Pelosi’s visit, according to Reuters mentionted.
The White House, Navy, Pentagon and Seventh Fleet did not immediately respond to Daily Caller News Foundation requests for comment.
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