US carrier strike group may be heading towards Taiwan – monitor
A US strike group, headed by aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan, may possibly be approaching Taiwanese waters, the Chinese semi-official monitoring group South China Sea Strategic Situation Probing Initiative (SCSPI) reported on Monday.
This comes during the Asian tour by the US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who made her first stop in Singapore earlier in the day. Media reports have earlier claimed that Pelosi could make an unannounced visit to the self-governed island of Taiwan as part of her tour. China had described the alleged plan as highly provocative and threatened the US with “unbearable consequences” if she decides to visit the island.
According to SCSPI, the strike group, consisting of the Ronald Reagan, two other Navy ships and Carrier Air Wing Five, consisting of F/A-18 fighters, helicopters and a surveillance aircraft, may currently be located some 800 kilometers from Taiwan’s south-eastern shores.
It bypassed the Luzon, the main island in the Philippines and kept heading north towards Taiwan, the monitor group said.
Last week, unnamed American officials told AP that the US military has been working on a “contingency plan” for its forces in the Pacific region to create “overlapping rings of protection” for the speaker during her possible flight to Taiwan and her stay there due to the possibility of incidents relating to China’s actions. AP also noted that the US had enough forces spread around the Pacific region, and the Pentagon might eventually use them for additional protection during the alleged trip. The news agency specifically named the US aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan and its strike group.
Pelosi announced on Sunday that, besides Singapore, she was planning to visit Malaysia, South Korea and Japan as part of her Asian tour, with Taiwan being absent from the list.
However, Chinese state-run paper the Global Times suggested on Sunday that it was “still possible that Pelosi wants to make a risky and dangerous move by trying to land at a Taiwan airport with emergency excuses like an aircraft fault or refueling.”
Sources told Taiwanese broadcaster TVBS that the US House Speaker could land on the island on Tuesday, with reservations for her delegation allegedly having already been made at a five-star hotel.
Taiwan has been self-governed since 1949, but never officially declared independence from China, with Beijing considering it a part of its territory under the One China policy.
Despite claiming that it respects the One China policy, Washington maintains strong unofficial ties with the island of 23.5 million, selling weapons to Taipei and backing its push for parting ways with Beijing.
China has long been angered by those contacts, saying that they infringe on its sovereignty and only escalate tensions in the region. If Pelosi does land in Taiwan, she’ll become the most high-ranking American official since then-House Speaker Newt Gingrich visited the island in 1997.