U.S. sends aircraft carrier group to Taiwan waters amid Chinese drills, invasion fears
"We will not be deterred from operating in the seas and the skies of the western Pacific"
The United States will dispatch an aircraft carrier strike group to Taiwanese waters amid the People's Republic of China's ongoing drills in the region and growing fears of a full-scale invasion.
White House spokesman John Kirby told reporters on Thursday that the Navy would position the U.S.S. Ronald Reagan and its complement of lesser warships near the island to deter Chinese aggression against Taiwan.
"We will not be deterred from operating in the seas and the skies of the western Pacific, consistent with international law as we have for decades supporting Taiwan and defending a free and open Pacific," Kirby said, according to the Epoch Times.
The move comes in response to Beijing's launching of live missiles into the waters around the island as part of live fire drills the People's Liberation Army conducted in the wake of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's visit to Taiwan.
“The People’s Republic of China launched an estimated 11 ballistic missiles towards Taiwan which impacted toward the northeast, the east, and southeast of the island,” Kirby said. “We condemn these actions, which are irresponsible and at odds with our longstanding goal of maintaining peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait and in the region."
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi arrived in Taiwan on Tuesday, following bellicose warnings from Beijing not to do so and open discussion by Chinese media figures suggesting the military shoot down her plane.
Beijing vehemently objected to the diplomatic visit, saying that it represented an attempt by the United States to push for Taiwanese independence, despite fierce denials from Washington.
"We have repeatedly said that we oppose any unilateral changes to the status quo from either side. We have said that we do not support Taiwan independence," Kirby said on Monday.
Taiwan does not formally claim independence from China. Rather, the Republic of China, which is based in Taipei, agrees with its communist counterpart in Beijing on the existence of a single Chinese state that includes the territory of both governments, an unusual diplomatic arrangement known as the "One China Principle." Both governments, however, claim to be the legitimate government of that polity.
The Republic of China retreated to Taiwan in 1949 after losing the Chinese Civil War to Mao Zedong's communist faction. Though the People's Republic of China has never exercised governing control over Taiwan, Beijing regards the island as being under separatist control.