Amid escalating tensions between Taiwan and China, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was scheduled to set off Friday on a tour of several Asian nations — possibly including Taiwan.
In light of that, the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan sailed near the hotly contested Fiery Cross Reef in the South China Sea, the South China Morning Post reported Friday.
The report, which cited satellite images, said Chinese warships were seen nearby, watching and monitoring the U.S. carrier’s movements.
China claims sovereignty over the self-ruled democracy of Taiwan and has threatened to “reunify” the island with the mainland by force, if necessary, CNN reported.
The communist giant fiercely opposes any move that appears to give Taiwan international legitimacy, so the possible visit by Pelosi has greatly agitated China, with warnings of serious consequences should the California Democrat go through with it.
“The Chinese side has made it clear to the U.S. on many occasions that it is firmly opposed to Speaker Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan. We are fully prepared,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said Monday.
“If the U.S. goes its own way, China will certainly take firm and forceful measures to safeguard its national sovereignty and territorial integrity, and the United States should be held responsible for any serious consequences,” he added.
On Speaker Pelosi’s potential visit to Taiwan, we are fully prepared for any eventuality. If the US side insists on making the visit, the Chinese side will take firm & strong measures. The US must assume full responsibility for any severe consequence arising thereof. pic.twitter.com/dQs3N9C99L
— Spokesperson发言人办公室 (@MFA_China) July 25, 2022
Pelosi’s visit will be enormously significant if she goes ahead with it. She would be the highest-level American official to visit Taiwan since 1997, when then-House Speaker Newt Gingrich visited the island, The New York Times reported.
Citing a “person familiar with the plans,” CNN reported Friday that it remained uncertain whether Pelosi would include a stop in Taiwan along with her planned visits to Japan, South Korea, Malaysia and Singapore.
In the meantime, China is keeping a close eye on American movements in the region, as seen in its monitoring of the USS Ronald Reagan.
Military analysts have said the aircraft carrier likely would be an escort to Pelosi if she goes through with the trip to Taiwan, the South China Morning Post reported.
The report said the nuclear-powered warship cruised about 115 miles off the Fiery Cross Reef, and two other vessels, identified as a Chinese Type 052D destroyer and a Type 054A frigate, were seen just 17 miles and 14 miles away.
This is not the first time that China has gotten agitated about U.S. ships in the South China Sea and warned the U.S. to tread carefully.
In February, a U.S. warship sailed through the Taiwan Strait as part of what was described as a “routine” transit, and China immediately called it out as “provocative,” Reuters reported.
A similar situation occurred again in May when the guided-missile cruiser USS Port Royal “conducted a routine Taiwan Strait transit” through the international waters “in accordance with international law,” The Hill reported.
In response, China accused the U.S. of staging “such dramas” and provoking “trouble, sending the wrong signals to Taiwan independence forces and deliberately intensifying tensions across the Taiwan Strait.”
Thus, as Pelosi heads to Asia, the potential ramifications of a Taiwan visit are very serious.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.
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