United States Navy warships are operating in the waters east of Taiwan in what officials say are standard military drills — but their presence could become a matter of international security.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi landed in Taiwan late Tuesday night local time, making her the highest-ranking U.S. official to visit the island since Newt Gingrich in 1997.
Chinese officials have exploded with anger at the proposition, saying her visit would violate the One China Policy and would constitute aiding an illegal rebellion. One Chinese state media personality even suggested shooting down her plane.
A Pentagon spokesperson confirmed to Fox News that Navy aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan is operating in the Philippine Sea, East of Taiwan along with the with guided missile cruiser USS Antietam and destroyer USS Higgins.
The presence of U.S. warships matches similar displays of military strength from the People’s Republic of China, who have recently been conducting drills in the Taiwan Strait.
The spokesperson emphasized these are routine and normal deployments and locations where the U.S. 7th fleet normally operates. The spokesperson confirmed that amphibious assault ship USS Tripoli is in the area as well.
When asked if Pelosi’s military aircraft has been accompanied by U.S. military planes, a Pentagon spokesperson declined to comment.
“We never talk about security details for unconfirmed or confirmed travel,” the spokesperson told Fox News. “We of course take all appropriate measures to ensure the safety of Members of Congress wherever and whenever they choose to travel.”
The People’s Republic of China has long claimed sovereignty over Taiwan and the Taiwan Strait, the relatively narrow strip of ocean between the island of Taiwan and the Chinese mainland. The Chinese military has frequently sent planes into the area, testing Taiwan’s air defense zone.
The U.S. does not have official relations with Taiwan — also known as the Republic of China — and maintains a One China Policy that recognizes the People’s Republic of China as the legitimate successor nation.
However, America has been stepping up engagement with the island as China seeks to isolate it from global institutions.