As US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi made his way to Taipei on Tuesday amid mounting warnings from China, four US warships, including an aircraft carrier, were positioned in the waters east of the island for “routine” deployment. .
The aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan had sailed through the South China Sea and was currently in the Philippine Sea, east of Taiwan and the Philippines and south of Japan, a US Navy official confirmed to Reuters news agency on Tuesday.
Japan-based Reagan operates a guided missile cruiser, USS Antietam, and a destroyer, USS Higgins.
“While they are capable of responding to any eventuality, these are normal, routine deployments,” the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity. The official added they were unable to comment on precise locations.
The US Navy official said the amphibious assault ship USS Tripoli was also in the area as part of a deployment to the region that began in early May from its home port of San Diego.
Pelosi, a longtime China critic, was set to arrive in Taipei later on Tuesday, people briefed on the matter said, as the United States said it would not be intimidated by the Chinese “saber chatter” during the visit.
Confirmation of the deployment comes as signs of military activity appear on both sides of the Taiwan Strait ahead of Pelosi’s visit.
In addition to Chinese planes flying close to the median line dividing the sensitive waterway on Tuesday morning, several Chinese warships had stayed close to the unofficial dividing line since Monday, a source briefed on the matter told Reuters.
China’s defense and foreign ministries did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The source said both Chinese warships and planes were “pinching” the median line Tuesday morning, an unusual move the person described as “highly provocative”.
The person said the Chinese plane made repeated tactical moves on Tuesday morning of briefly “touching” the median line and circling back to the other side of the strait while Taiwanese planes stood nearby on standby.
Neither side’s aircraft normally cross the center line.
Taiwan’s Defense Ministry said on Tuesday it has fully mastered military activities near Taiwan and will deploy troops appropriately in response to “enemy threats” as tensions with China mount.
The ministry had “strengthened” its level of alert for fighting from Tuesday morning to Thursday afternoon, the island’s official central news agency reported Tuesday, citing unidentified sources.
In the southeastern Chinese city of Xiamen, which faces Taiwan and is home to a large military presence, residents reported sightings of armored vehicles en route and posted photos online. The photos have yet to be verified by Reuters.
Chinese social media was buzzing with both fear over potential conflict and patriotic fervor over the prospect of unification with Taiwan.
Since last week, the People’s Liberation Army has conducted several exercises, including live fire drills, in the South China Sea, Yellow Sea and Bohan Sea.
Some regional military analysts say that increased deployment in times of tension increases the risk of accidents, even when neither side wants an actual conflict.
(This story was not edited by NDTV staff and was generated automatically from a syndicated feed.)