Beijing deployed its two aircraft carriers this week and plans to start a series of live-fire exercises following Rep. Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) visit to Taiwan, Chinese state media reported.
Carriers CNS Liaoning (16) and CNS Shandong (17) sortied from their homeports as part of the retaliatory measures China planned in reaction to Pelosi’s visit to Taipei as part of an expanded tour of the western pacific.
“The aircraft carrier Liaoning on Sunday embarked on a voyage from its homeport in Qingdao, East China’s Shandong Province and the aircraft carrier Shandong on Monday set out from its homeport in Sanya, South China’s Hainan Province, accompanied by a Type 075 amphibious assault ship,” according to state-controlled Global Times on Tuesday.
A defense official told USNI News, as of Wednesday morning, U.S. ships operating in the region have not had any unsafe or unprofessional encounters with People’s Liberation Army Navy forces.
The moves come in parallel to extensive live-fire exercise drills the PLA announced that will fire weapons within 10 miles of Taiwan’s coast. The drills would surround Taiwan, with some crossing into waters claimed by the island, according to a New York Times graphic. At least two cross into Taiwan’s marine border.
China has warned ships and aircraft to stay out of the area for 72 hours while the drills are conducted, but it is unclear if Taiwan and the United States will follow, according to The New York Times.
The current situation is reminiscent of the Third Taiwan Strait Crisis, which saw the U.S. send two aircraft carriers groups to the area in response to China’s live fire drills. This time, the drills are closer to Taiwan.
Meanwhile, the Reagan Carrier Strike Group and USS Tripoli (LHA-7) have been in the waters near Taiwan as of Monday, according to USNI News’ Fleet Tracker.
The Ronald Reagan CSG and Tripoli were in the vicinity due to normal operations, a Pentagon spokesperson said Monday. However, a senior defense official told USNI News that the ships were there as part of a contingency plan if there was a military reaction from China to Pelosi’s visit.