US announces military activity near Taiwan
US Navy ships and planes will transit the Taiwan Strait in the next two weeks, the White House announced on Thursday. National Security Council spokesman John Kirby condemned Chinese military drills in the area and said the Pentagon had ordered the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan and her escorts to remain near Taiwan to “monitor the situation.”
The Reagan and her accompanying ships are based in Japan and were deployed to the East China Sea in recent days, as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi paid a visit to Taipei against Chinese objections. Beijing has responded to Pelosi’s visit by launching extensive drills around Taiwan and firing a dozen missiles across the island.
Amid heightened tensions, US President Joe Biden decided it would be “prudent” to order the US aircraft carrier strike group to stay in the area “for a little bit longer than they were originally planned,” according to Kirby. The spokesman also condemned the Chinese missile tests as “irresponsible” and “at odds with our longstanding goal of maintaining peace and stability across the Taiwan strait and in the region.”
“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 Indo-Pacific,” he said.
As part of that effort, the US will “conduct standard air and maritime transits through the Taiwan strait in the next two weeks,” Kirby added.
The White House also confirmed earlier reporting that the US Air Force had postponed a scheduled test of a Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), but Kirby insisted that the test will happen in the near future and that the US nuclear deterrent was “safe, secure and effective.”