China announced that new live-fire ammunition drills would include sending missiles over Taiwan in the same waters that the U.S. Navy has deployed several warships.
The nuclear-powered carrier USS Ronald Reagan, guided missile cruiser USS Antietam, destroyer USS Higgins, and amphibious assault ship USS Tripoli were all deployed to the waters east of Taiwan just before House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA) visit, according to an anonymous military official speaking with Reuters.
“While they are able to respond to any eventuality, these are normal, routine deployments,” the official said, denying to provide precise details as to the ships’ locations.
CHINA SCRAMBLES JETS AND ANNOUNCES MILITARY DRILLS AFTER PELOSI LANDS IN TAIWAN
The deployment puts the U.S. Navy on a possible collision course with the People’s Liberation Army, which announced live-fire exercises in the waters surrounding Taiwan in retaliation for Pelosi’s visit. The new exercises will be “rehearsals for the PLA to reunify the island by force,” experts speaking with the Global Times, a Chinese state-affiliated outlet, said.
Taiwan is an independent island nation off the coast of mainland China. The Chinese Communist Party has long sought to bring the territory under its control, even though Taiwan is self-governed and receives U.S. defense support despite not being formally recognized by the latter.
The exercises will likely see the PLA fire long-range missiles over the island of Taiwan itself, an unprecedented move, into the waters east of Taiwan where the U.S. naval squadron is deployed, per the report.
A notice released by the Xinhua News Agency designated six different areas in the waters surrounding Taiwan as being areas where the PLA will perform live-fire ammunition drills, prohibiting any vessels or aircraft from entering the zones “for safety reasons.” It remains to be seen whether the U.S. naval squadron is deployed in the area specified or if they will change course to avoid the area.
Gu Zhong, deputy chief of staff of the PLA Eastern Theater Command, told the Global Times that the drills will test a variety of the military’s capabilities.
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“The drills will comprehensively test the performance of weapons and equipment as well as the troops’ joint operational capabilities, making preparations for all crises,” he said. “The troops of the PLA Eastern Theater Command are fully confident and capable of fighting back at any provocation and resolutely safeguard national sovereignty and territorial integrity.”