U.S. carrier strike groups enter South China Sea amid rising China-Taiwan tension

China flew 39 aircraft through Taiwan's defense zone on Sunday.

Updated: January 24, 2022 - 2:12pm

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U.S. aircraft carriers have entered the South China Sea as they begin operations amid rising tension between China and Taiwan.

According to a statement Sunday from the Navy, the Carrier Strike Groups Carl Vinson and Abraham Lincoln will conduct operations focused on strengthening maritime integrated-at-sea operations and combat readiness. They will include communication operations and anti-submarine warfare operations, among other things.

"Our ability to rapidly aggregate and work collectively alongside CSG 3, highlights the U.S. Navy's ability to deliver overwhelming maritime force, when called upon, to support a free and open Indo-Pacific region," said Rear Adm. Dan Martin said in a statement. "We are committed to ensuring the lawful use of the sea and free flow of commerce while deterring those who challenge the shared vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific now and into the long-term future."

U.S. warships often navigate around areas of the South China Sea, angering China, which claims Taiwan as a part of its territory. The announcement from the U.S. Navy, however, occurred on the same day as Taiwan reported repelling 39 Chinese aircraft flying through its defense zone.

The strike groups led by the Carl Vinson have recently conducted several operations alongside Japan's Maritime Self-Defense Forces, and more recently, participated in a naval exercise in the Philippine Sea that included the Royal Australian Navy, Royal Canadian Navy, and the German Navy.