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US deploys aircraft carrier on China’s doorstep

USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76) sails in the South China Sea. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Matthew Mitchell/Released)
July 29, 2022

The U.S. Navy deployed an aircraft carrier into the South China Sea this week, moving it closer to China as tensions rise over House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s potential Taiwan visit.

On Tuesday, the U.S. Pacific Fleet announced the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) had departed the Changi Naval Base in Singapore a day earlier after concluding a port visit to the country.

“I can confirm USS Ronald Reagan and her strike group are now underway, operating in the South China Sea following a successful port visit to Singapore,” Lt. Mark Langford told Fox News on Thursday. 

The aircraft carrier deployment comes amid new reports that the U.S. military is bolstering its forces in the Indo-Pacific region amid concerns Pelosi’s potential travel to Taiwan could illicit aggression from China. While Taiwan governs itself as a de facto independent nation, China considers the island a part of its territory and would see Pelosi’s visit as a violation of its sovereignty.

The U.S. government does not have official relations with the Taiwanese government but has continued to interact with Taiwan, including by supplying weapons and military equipment to the island.

On July 20, President Joe Biden said U.S. military officials don’t believe it’s a good idea for Pelosi to visit Taiwan at this time. On July 22, Pelosi said the U.S. military may be afraid Chinese forces could shoot down her plane as she travels to the island.

If Pelosi does visit Taiwan, she will be the first House Speaker to do so in 25 years.

USS Ronald Reagan had been operating in the South China Sea prior to arriving in Singapore on July 22. The aircraft carrier now returns to the South China Sea as tensions remain high between the U.S. and China.

Langford did not comment on Pelosi’s potential travel plans when asked by Fox News.

“As a matter of policy, we do not discuss future ship movements; however, I will add that Reagan is continuing normal, scheduled operations as part of her routine patrol in support of a free and open Indo-Pacific,” Langford said.

Amid the ongoing concerns over Pelosis’ potential visit to Taiwan, tensions are also high as Taiwanese forces are actively conducting military drills.

On Thursday, Taiwanese forces on the Taiwan-held island of Dongyin fired warning flares at a suspected Chinese drone that twice “glanced by” the island’s airspace. The island of Dongyin is part of the Matsu archipelago and is only about 30 miles off the coast of China’s Fujian province. Taiwanese forces have held the island since 1949. The island is an important military outpost for Taiwan, given its close proximity to the Chinese mainland.