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6 Apr, 2023 12:24

US and Chinese aircraft carriers deployed near Taiwan – official

The two warships appeared in the area following a high-profile political meeting, the island’s defense minister says
US and Chinese aircraft carriers deployed near Taiwan – official

The US has deployed an aircraft carrier in the vicinity of Taiwan, the self-governing island’s Defense Minister Chiu Kuo-cheng has revealed. A Chinese warship of the same class is also in the area.

The arrival of USS Nimitz coincided with a meeting between Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen and US House Speaker Kevin McCarthy in California on Wednesday.

China considers the Taiwan to be part of its territory and strongly opposes Taipei’s contacts with Washington.

Speaking before its parliament’s Foreign and National Defense Committee on Thursday, Chiu said the American vessel was 400 nautical miles (460 miles/740km) east of Taiwan. He also mentioned the deployment of China’s Shandong aircraft carrier 370km from the southernmost tip of Taiwan.

Chiu declined to comment on whether the US warship had arrived in the area in response to Shandong’s appearance.

Tsai and McCarthy held a two-hour meeting behind closed doors in Simi Valley, California on Wednesday morning, with 18 bipartisan members of Congress also in attendance.

We’re stronger when we are together,” Tsai told McCarthy on Wednesday, expressing gratitude for Washington’s “efforts to protect our way of life.

McCarthy responded by describing “friendship between the people of Taiwan and America [as] a matter of profound importance to the free world.

The last time Tsai met with McCarthy’s predecessor, Democrat Nancy Pelosi, back in August 2022, there was a major escalation between Washington and Beijing, with China launching its largest-ever military drills in the Taiwan Strait and slapping sanctions on Taipei.

Commenting on Tsai’s latest talks with the top US official, China’s Foreign Ministry issued a statement on Thursday, condemning the get-together.

Diplomats warned that China would take “strong and resolute measures” in response to Washington’s and Taipei’s “egregiously wrong action,” adding that the Taiwan issue was the “first red line that must not be crossed in China-US relations.

Taiwan has been de facto independent since 1949, when the losing side in the Chinese civil war fled to the island and established its own administration there. While only a handful of nations have recognized Taiwan as a sovereign state, the US has long maintained close, unofficial ties with Taipei, both militarily and economically. On paper, however, Washington professes to still adhere to the ‘One-China’ principle.

Beijing considers the island to be an inalienable part of its territory that has been seized by separatists.