U.S. Will Continue Taiwan Strait Transits, FONOPs in Western Pacific Despite Growing Tension with China

U.S. warships will continue to make Taiwan Strait transits and perform freedom of navigation operations in the Indo-Pacific despite the recent Chinese live fire drills, the undersecretary of defense for policy told reporters Monday. The U.S. Navy is expected to conduct some freedom of navigation operations in the region in the coming days, Colin Kahl, […]

Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Benfold (DDG-65) on June 24, 2022

U.S. warships will continue to make Taiwan Strait transits and perform freedom of navigation operations in the Indo-Pacific despite the recent Chinese live fire drills, the undersecretary of defense for policy told reporters Monday.
The U.S. Navy is expected to conduct some freedom of navigation operations in the region in the coming days, Colin Kahl, undersecretary of defense for policy, said during a press briefing. It is important for Beijing to understand that the United States will continue to sail in international waters where it is allowed.

“We will continue to stand by our allies and partners. So even as China tries to kind of chip away at the status quo, our policy is to maintain the status quo with [a] free and open Indo-Pacific which frankly, is when I think most of the countries in the region would prefer,” Kahl said.

China is continuing to drill near Taiwan, with another series announced Monday, according to The New York Times. There were nearly 13 Chinese warships near Taiwan, the country’s defense ministry said. The defense ministry also reported approximately 40 sorties near the island.

USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76) and the amphibious assault ship USS Tripoli (LHA-7) have been in the area since Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) visited Taiwan, sparking the tension between China and the U.S., USNI News previously reported. Both ships are currently in the Philippine Sea, according to USNI News’ Fleet Tracker.

The drills last week started shortly after Pelosi left Taiwan. Pelosi’s trip to Taiwan caused tension between Beijing and Washington after China expressed ire over the visit.

“Legislatures from around the world go to Taiwan. Our Congress is an independent body of our government. Nothing about the visit and visit change one iota of the U.S. government’s policy toward Taiwan or towards China,” he said.
“Clearly, the PRC is trying to coerce Taiwan… Clearly they’re trying to coerce the international community. And all I’ll say is, we’re not going to take the bait, and it’s not going to work. So it’s a manufactured crisis, but that doesn’t mean we have to play into that.”

McMaster: Taiwan Could Prove Difficult for China to Invade

Despite China’s recent aggression toward Taiwan, former National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster argued this week that Taiwan “not an easy military problem” for Beijing to solve. Speaking during a Hudson Institute online forum on Thursday, the retired Army lieutenant general added that Taipei could be difficult to attack across the 100-mile wide, often stormy Taiwan […]

Despite China’s recent aggression toward Taiwan, former National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster argued this week that Taiwan “not an easy military problem” for Beijing to solve.

Speaking during a Hudson Institute online forum on Thursday, the retired Army lieutenant general added that Taipei could be difficult to attack across the 100-mile wide, often stormy Taiwan Strait. It’s a matter of “capability and will.”

To protest House Speaker Rep. Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) 19-hour visit this week to the self-governing island, Beijing fired missiles into Japanese waters, sent military aircraft into Taipei’s air defense identification zone and conducted large-scale live-fire exercises in the Taiwan Strait.

But all these escalating military moves from the People’s Republic of China is a “signal to the world” that Beijing could blockade or invade Taiwan, said Patrick Cronin, Hudson’s Asia-Pacific chair. He mentioned threats by Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi that Pelosi’s visit could lead to a slippery slope of conflict as a means of intimidating other nations.

Wang, speaking at an Association of South East Asians Nations event on Wednesday, termed Pelosi’s visit “manic, irresponsible and highly irrational.”

McMaster said he hopes that the Chinese actions give the United States a “sense of urgency when it comes to Taiwan’s future and how important the Indo-Pacific is to the United States militarily and economically.

Steps that Taiwan can take – like lengthening the time Taiwanese conscripted reservists spend on active duty, creating a territorial defense force and improving joint training for active and reserve forces – would improve Taiwan’s deterrence by denial, McMaster said.

Two years ago, Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen said her administration increased defense spending to 2.3 percent of its gross domestic product and was very interested in buying asymmetric defense systems ranging from mines to anti-ship missiles, as well as modernizing force structure. In the past, Taiwan had looked to the U.S. for big-ticket items like fighter aircraft to block Chinese ambitions. Its parliament approved a special $8.6 billion appropriation earlier this year in the face of Chinese naval and air incursions during the winter.

Rebeccah Heinrichs, a senior fellow at Hudson, said the time for Taipei to spend on military equipment and receive it is now. It would be far more difficult to supply Taiwan if the Chinese invaded the island, as it has been to come to Ukraine’s aid using highways and rail following the Russian invasion earlier this year, she said.

So far, McMaster has been encouraged by “Taiwan’s will” in resisting escalating pressures of a possible blockade of the island. He added that such a blockade would disrupt not only the island’s economy but also global trade in the Indo-Pacific. McMaster said a key Chinese objective is to isolate Japan from its allies and partners, which could happen under a Beijing-controlled Taiwan.

“Japan has been a real source of strength” in standing up to China over Taiwan’s future, he said. McMaster said nations in ASEAN could learn from Tokyo’s example. “The choice they’re facing is sovereignty or servitude” if they accept China as the final arbiter regionally.

Not surprisingly, “Russia has come to China’s position in this” escalation of tensions, Heinrichs added.

McMaster compared it to the 1930s, “almost like Hitler’s playbook” of authoritarian coercion in Europe and the Pacific. He said Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin believe that together “we will rewrite the rules” because the U.S. and its allies are weak.

For the U.S. and its allies, “it is a period of trial … to maintain resolve” as they are showing in Ukraine, he said.

Heinrichs added that Pelosi’s visit should be a “reassurance to allies” of America’s commitment to the Indo-Pacific. She added that Taipei welcomed the speaker “with open arms” and a bipartisan Congress at home supported her visit. Newt Gingrich visited Taiwan when he was speaker in the late 1990s.

The Trump Administration opened the door for more high-level U.S. official visits to Taiwan after decades following U.S. recognition of the People’s Republic of China in the 1970s.

She added that the speaker’s stopover was not the rejection of the United States’ “One China Policy,” as Beijing claimed.

“The Biden administration must embrace this visit” and “make sure there is no appearance of daylight” between the speaker and the White House and Pentagon, she said. Earlier, President Joe Biden warned of consequences that might arise over such a visit.

Heinrichs said Pelosi “holds a critical office” and showed courage in visiting Taiwan that can help Americans understand what is at stake in the Indo-Pacific for democracy and the world’s economy.

Ships Avoid Taiwan’s Ports To Avoid Chinese Navy

By Ann Koh (Bloomberg) China’s military exercises are making ships think twice about heading into one of Taiwan’s most important ports, creating potential delays for shipments of electronic goods. Ships are…

By Ann Koh (Bloomberg) China’s military exercises are making ships think twice about heading into one of Taiwan’s most important ports, creating potential delays for shipments of electronic goods. Ships are...

China Navy Drills Force Cargo Ships To Steer Clear Of Taiwan

By Kevin Varley (Bloomberg) Shippers rerouted vessels as China began its most provocative military drills in decades around Taiwan, with at least one owner barring ships from transiting the strait.  Taiwan said China…

By Kevin Varley (Bloomberg) Shippers rerouted vessels as China began its most provocative military drills in decades around Taiwan, with at least one owner barring ships from transiting the strait.  Taiwan said China...

China Deploys Aircraft Carriers, Prepares Military Drills Near Taiwan Following Pelosi Visit

Beijing deployed its two aircraft carriers this week and plans to start a series of live-fire exercises following Rep. Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) visit to Taiwan, Chinese state media reported. Carriers CNS Liaoning (16) and CNS Shandong (17) sortied from their homeports as part of the retaliatory measures China planned in reaction to Pelosi’s visit to Taipei […]

People’s Liberation Army Navy aircraft carrier Shandong berths at a naval port in Sanya, China. PLAN Photo

Beijing deployed its two aircraft carriers this week and plans to start a series of live-fire exercises following Rep. Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) visit to Taiwan, Chinese state media reported.

Carriers CNS Liaoning (16) and CNS Shandong (17) sortied from their homeports as part of the retaliatory measures China planned in reaction to Pelosi’s visit to Taipei as part of an expanded tour of the western pacific.

“The aircraft carrier Liaoning on Sunday embarked on a voyage from its homeport in Qingdao, East China’s Shandong Province and the aircraft carrier Shandong on Monday set out from its homeport in Sanya, South China’s Hainan Province, accompanied by a Type 075 amphibious assault ship,” according to state-controlled Global Times on Tuesday.

A defense official told USNI News, as of Wednesday morning, U.S. ships operating in the region have not had any unsafe or unprofessional encounters with People’s Liberation Army Navy forces.

The moves come in parallel to extensive live-fire exercise drills the PLA announced that will fire weapons within 10 miles of Taiwan’s coast. The drills would surround Taiwan, with some crossing into waters claimed by the island, according to a New York Times graphic. At least two cross into Taiwan’s marine border.

China has warned ships and aircraft to stay out of the area for 72 hours while the drills are conducted, but it is unclear if Taiwan and the United States will follow, according to The New York Times.

The current situation is reminiscent of the Third Taiwan Strait Crisis, which saw the U.S. send two aircraft carriers groups to the area in response to China’s live fire drills. This time, the drills are closer to Taiwan.

Meanwhile, the Reagan Carrier Strike Group and USS Tripoli (LHA-7) have been in the waters near Taiwan as of Monday, according to USNI News’ Fleet Tracker.

The Ronald Reagan CSG and Tripoli were in the vicinity due to normal operations, a Pentagon spokesperson said Monday. However, a senior defense official told USNI News that the ships were there as part of a contingency plan if there was a military reaction from China to Pelosi’s visit.

Pelosi Left Taiwan – China Threatens Peace, Shipping & Trade

Nancy Pelosi departed Taiwan this morning after reiterating her support for the island. This resulted in Chinese anger, as Beijing threatens trade and military retaliation. Here’s everything you need to know about China’s response in regard to shipping…

Nancy Pelosi departed Taiwan this morning after reiterating her support for the island. This resulted in Chinese anger, as Beijing threatens trade and military retaliation. Here's everything you need to know about China's response in regard to shipping and trade.

Chinese Warplanes Buzz Line Dividing Taiwan Strait

Tensions rise ahead of Nancy Pelosi’s trip after a US Aircraft Carrier group positioned itself east of Taiwan and several Chinese warplanes flew close to the median line dividing the…

Tensions rise ahead of Nancy Pelosi’s trip after a US Aircraft Carrier group positioned itself east of Taiwan and several Chinese warplanes flew close to the median line dividing the...

Carrier USS Ronald Reagan, Two F-35B Big Decks Operating Near Taiwan as Pelosi Arrives in Singapore; China Renews Threats

Three U.S. capital ships and their escorts are operating in the Western Pacific near Taiwan, USNI News has learned. Aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76) and big deck amphibious ships USS America (LHA-6) and USS Tripoli (LHA-7), with Marine F-35B Lighting II Joint Strike Fighters embarked, are operating in the vicinity of Taiwan, on the […]

USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76) conducts an archipelagic sea lane passage through the San Bernardino Strait, on July 30, 2022. US Navy Photo

Three U.S. capital ships and their escorts are operating in the Western Pacific near Taiwan, USNI News has learned.

Aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76) and big deck amphibious ships USS America (LHA-6) and USS Tripoli (LHA-7), with Marine F-35B Lighting II Joint Strike Fighters embarked, are operating in the vicinity of Taiwan, on the edge of the South China Sea ahead of a Western Pacific visit from U.S. House Speaker Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to the region, according to the Aug. 1 edition of the USNI News Fleet and Marine Tracker.

A Pentagon spokesman told USNI News on Monday that the ships were operating normally in the region and would not detail force protection measures for the visit of the third highest-ranking U.S. official to the region.

However, a senior defense official told USNI News the ships, escorts and their air wings – already in the region – were prepared to linger as a contingency option. On Monday, Beijing implied there would be a military response if Pelosi traveled to Taiwan.

China has “serious concern over Speaker Pelosi’s potential visit to Taiwan and our firm opposition to the visit. We have been stressing that such a visit would lead to serious consequences,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told reporters Monday when asked about the trip.
“We want to once again make it clear to the US side that the Chinese side is fully prepared for any eventuality and that the People’s Liberation Army of China will never sit idly by, and we will make resolute response and take strong countermeasures to uphold China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

Capt. Joel Lang, commanding officer of amphibious assault carrier USS Tripoli (LHA-7) watches an F-35B Lightning II aircraft assigned to Marine Strike Fighter Squadron (VMFA) 121 prepare to launch from the flight deck on July 24, 2022. US Navy Photo

China views Taiwan as a breakaway province and discourages governments from dealing with Taipei directly. Pelosi would be the highest-ranking U.S. official to visit Taiwan in 25 years.

Pelosi arrived in Singapore on Monday as part of a congressional delegation to the region after a stop in Hawaii that included a brief with U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, her office said in a statement.

“In Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea and Japan, our delegation will hold high-level meetings to discuss how we can further advance our shared interests and values, including peace and security, economic growth and trade, the COVID-19 pandemic, the climate crisis, human rights and democratic governance,” reads the statement.

Her official itinerary did not include Taiwan, however, officials in Washington and Taipei said a visit is expected, according to CNN.

As of Monday, Japan-based Reagan is in the Philippine Sea after transiting the San Bernadino Strait on Saturday following a port visit to Singapore and operating in the South China Sea.
Japan-based America is in the East China Sea and California-based Tripoli is in just south of Okinawa. Tripoli has been embarked with up to 20 F-35Bs, while America routinely deploys with Marine F-35Bs. Marine officials told USNI News on Friday that its F-35Bs were not grounded as part of the ongoing ejection seat problems.

Specific lots of ejection seats across the Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps — including F-35s — were found to have defective components. The services are in the process of clearing the seats for service with repairs.

“Currently, Marine Corps F-35Bs are not grounded, and over 90 percent of the inspections on Marine Corps ejection seat cartridge actuating devices are now complete,” Marine Maj. Jay Hernandez told USNI News on Friday.