China deployed an aircraft carrier strike group off the coast of Taiwan on Wednesday, the same day House Speaker Kevin McCarthy met with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen despite China’s repeated warnings not to.
The carrier was 200 nautical miles off the island’s east coast on Thursday, and no aircraft had been observed taking off from it, Taiwanese Defense Minister Chiu Kuo-cheng said, according to USNI News.
Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense also stated Wednesday that a Chinese aircraft had violated its airspace. Taiwanese aircraft, vessels, and land-based missile systems were tasked with responding, the ministry stated.
Taiwan had announced on Wednesday that the Chinese carrier CNS Shandong had passed into the island’s southeast waters through the Bashi Channel to its south.
Japan’s Ministry of Defense said the carrier was being accompanied by a frigate and a fleet oiler, USNI News reported.
Chiu, Taiwan’s defense minister, told reporters the carrier is “training, but the timing is quite sensitive, and we are still studying what it is up to,” The Straits Times reported.
The carrier’s activity near Taiwan comes in the wake of McCarthy and Tsai’s high-profile meeting in California, during which both leaders reiterated their support for each other. After the meeting, McCarthy publicly called for the continuation of U.S. weapons sales to Taiwan.
China and Taiwan split in 1949 in a civil war that never officially ended. Since then, China’s openly stated goal of reabsorbing the democratic and capitalist island has grown into one of the world’s most sensitive geopolitical flashpoints.
The day of the meeting, China also launched a three-day operation in the Taiwan Strait to board and inspect cargo and construction vessels. Taiwan asserted that it would not comply with any attempted searches, saying it would call its coast guard for assistance.
China also regularly sends warplanes and warships near the island as an intimidation tactic.