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US orders aircraft carrier to stay near Taiwan as Chinese planes and ships deploy near the island and missiles fly in response to Pelosi's visit

Business Insider logo Business Insider 8/5/2022 jepstein@insider.com (Jake Epstein)
In this June 26, 2018, file photo, the U.S. aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan anchors off Manila Bay for a goodwill visit in Manila, Philippines. AP Photo/Bullit Marquez, File © AP Photo/Bullit Marquez, File In this June 26, 2018, file photo, the U.S. aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan anchors off Manila Bay for a goodwill visit in Manila, Philippines. AP Photo/Bullit Marquez, File
  • The Pentagon has ordered a US aircraft carrier and its strike group to remain near Taiwan amid current tensions.
  • Tensions in the region have soared after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taipei on Tuesday.
  • Among other military responses, China deployed 68 aircraft and 13 ships near Taiwan on Friday. 

The Pentagon has ordered a US aircraft carrier to remain in waters near Taiwan, a top White House official said, as China continues to express its anger over House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's visit this week through a significant show of combat power around the island.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin ordered that the "USS Ronald Reagan and the ships in her strike group will remain on station in the general area to monitor the situation," White House National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby said at a Thursday briefing.  

"We will conduct standard air and maritime transits through the Taiwan Strait in the next few weeks, consistent, again, with our longstanding approach to defending the freedom of the seas and international law," he added. "And, we will take further steps to demonstrate our commitment to the security of our allies in the region."

Ahead of Pelosi's visit to Taiwan earlier this week, the Japan-based USS Ronald Reagan, America's only forward-deployed carrier, and two other US Navy flattops, amphibious assault ships USS America and USS Tripoli, were reported to be operating in waters near the self-ruled island.

Both the Tripoli and the America carry advanced fifth-generation F-35 stealth fighters, while the Reagan carries a larger air wing of F/A-18 jets, among other aviation assets.

The US Navy vessels were said to be conducting normal operations and were not a response to Beijing's repeated warnings of a possible military reaction to the trip. The Reagan is, however, now extending its deployment in the Western Pacific amid an uptick in tensions.

Since Pelosi's Tuesday visit to Taiwan, tensions in the region have remained high, and China's People's Liberation Army has increased its pressure on the democratic island through military exercises this week, drills that have involved firing ballistic missiles over and around Taiwan, as well as flying dozens of fighter jets into Taiwan's air defense identification zone.  

In its latest move, Beijing deployed 68 aircraft and 13 vessels for military activities around the Taiwan Strait on Friday, Taipei's defense ministry said in a tweet. Some military assets in the group crossed the median line dividing the Taiwan Strait. While this is not unprecedented, such moves are less common.

Taiwan's military "responded to such a situation accordingly with surveillance systems, CAP aircraft, naval vessels, and missile systems," the defense ministry said.

"We condemn such action that disturbed our surrounding airspace and waters and continue to ensure our democracy and freedom free from threats," it added. 

It was not immediately clear what aircraft and ships China dispatched, though the Chinese state-affiliated Global Times reported that the show of force included fighter jets, electronic recon aircraft, bombers, and early warning aircraft. It said pilots were close enough to see Taiwan's coast and mountain range. 

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