Breaking News
Get Actionable Insights with InvestingPro+: Start 7 Day FREE Trial Register here
Investing Pro 0
Ad-Free Version. Upgrade your experience. Save up to 40% More details

Taiwan tensions reveal challenges for U.S. navy as Chinese threat grows

World Aug 06, 2022 05:10AM ET
Saved. See Saved Items.
This article has already been saved in your Saved Items
2/2 © Reuters. FILE PHOTO: The Ronald Reagan Strike Group ship's the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76), the guided-missile cruiser USS Antietam (CG 54) and the guided-missile destroyer USS Milius (DDG 69) conduct a photo exercise with the Japan Maritime Self-D 2/2

(This story refiles to correct spelling of Antietam in paragraph 15)

By Greg Torode and Idrees Ali

HONG KONG (Reuters) - The long route of Nancy Pelosi's Tuesday flight over Borneo to Taipei and a U.S. aircraft carrier's complex passage through the South China Sea highlight the difficulties U.S. forces now face against a Chinese military keen to flex its muscles over Taiwan.

U.S. military officials repeatedly talk of "routine" patrols to support a "free and open Indo-Pacific" but the realities are increasingly challenging amid the worst Taiwan tensions since 1996, according to diplomats, military attaches and security analysts.

U.S. officials told Reuters this week they did not want to escalate matters with unnecessarily provocative deployments before House Speaker Pelosi - a staunch China critic and the third most senior U.S. politician - landed in Taipei on Tuesday on a U.S. Air Force plane.

And they are keeping to that approach as the Chinese military launches live firing exercises in waters surrounding, and in some bisecting, Taiwan's territory, they say.

"We can't control Pelosi's travel, but we can control how we react," one defence official said.

The U.S. Indo-Pacific Command in Hawaii did not immediately respond to Reuters' questions regarding its actions and strategies.

The plane carrying Pelosi and her congressional delegation skirted the South China Sea - and its fortified islands - as it flew from Singapore on Tuesday, taking a longer route over the island of Borneo and eastern side of the Philippines.

"The natural flight path would be over the South China Sea but the place is now bristling with radars, sensors and jamming equipment on China's island bases, so it is something to avoid in the Pelosi context," said Singapore-based security consultant Alexander Neill.

"The way things are unfolding we can see the goal here is to avoid unmanaged escalations."

After building up installations in the disputed Paracel and Spratlys archipelagos, Chinese coast guard vessels, warships and aircraft routinely patrol deep into the maritime heart of Southeast Asia, frequently shadowing U.S. and other navies.

China's military modernisation in recent decades mean some security analysts say it would be unthinkable for U.S. aircraft carriers to challenge Chinese forces in the seas around Taiwan in the way they did a quarter of a century ago.

Back then, one carrier sailed through the Taiwan Strait as another manouvered close by to end days of Chinese missile launches and military drills as Beijing protested Taiwan's first direct presidential election.

More than half of the U.S. Navy's 111 currently deployed battle force ships are now within the Japanese-based Seventh Fleet's sphere of responsibility that straddles the western Pacific and Indian oceans, according to the tracking by the independent U.S. Naval Institute.

Deploying ships en masse to the Chinese coast is another matter, given China's inventory of advanced cruise and ballistic missiles and its expansive surface fleet, regional security analysts say.

Four powerful vessels - the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan, the amphibious assault ship USS Tripoli and the guided missile cruiser USS Antietam are east of Taiwan, Reuters has confirmed. Another assault ship - which also carries F-35 strike fighter aircraft - is at port nearby in Japan.

Some security analysts say it was highly likely U.S. attack submarines were also close to such a formation.

The passage of the Reagan strike group was particularly closely watched by regional security analysts in the days before Pelosi's mission.

Radio Free Asia last month reported it was due to call in the central Vietnamese port of Danang in July after patrols in the southern South China Sea near China's fortifications in the Spratlys.

Diplomats familiar with its route said the strike group turned around and instead headed for a five-day stop in Singapore starting July 22.

The move came as China launched exercises between July 16 and 20 surrounding its bases further north in the Paracel islands, east of Danang and covering 100,000 square km, according to statements by local maritime authorities.

Neither U.S. nor Vietnamese officials have commented on the switch, or the reason for it, but a U.S. Navy official told Reuters this week that schedules "often change" without confirmation or notice.

The Reagan later headed through the tight sealanes of the Philippines' archipelago before reaching waters west of Taiwan, according to an official U.S. naval Facebook (NASDAQ:META) page.

Singapore-based security scholar Collin Koh said the passage through the Philippines' San Bernadino strait by an aircraft carrier was unusual, instead of sailing north between the Philippines and south China coast.

"I think it shows some carefully calibrated deployments, designed to not unnecessarily provoke China even while ensuring they're moving to where they need to be."

Taiwan tensions reveal challenges for U.S. navy as Chinese threat grows

Related Articles

Add a Comment

Comment Guidelines

We encourage you to use comments to engage with other users, share your perspective and ask questions of authors and each other. However, in order to maintain the high level of discourse we’ve all come to value and expect, please keep the following criteria in mind:  

  •            Enrich the conversation, don’t trash it.

  •           Stay focused and on track. Only post material that’s relevant to the topic being discussed. 

  •           Be respectful. Even negative opinions can be framed positively and diplomatically. Avoid profanity, slander or personal attacks directed at an author or another user. Racism, sexism and other forms of discrimination will not be tolerated.

  • Use standard writing style. Include punctuation and upper and lower cases. Comments that are written in all caps and contain excessive use of symbols will be removed.
  • NOTE: Spam and/or promotional messages and comments containing links will be removed. Phone numbers, email addresses, links to personal or business websites, Skype/Telegram/WhatsApp etc. addresses (including links to groups) will also be removed; self-promotional material or business-related solicitations or PR (ie, contact me for signals/advice etc.), and/or any other comment that contains personal contact specifcs or advertising will be removed as well. In addition, any of the above-mentioned violations may result in suspension of your account.
  • Doxxing. We do not allow any sharing of private or personal contact or other information about any individual or organization. This will result in immediate suspension of the commentor and his or her account.
  • Don’t monopolize the conversation. We appreciate passion and conviction, but we also strongly believe in giving everyone a chance to air their point of view. Therefore, in addition to civil interaction, we expect commenters to offer their opinions succinctly and thoughtfully, but not so repeatedly that others are annoyed or offended. If we receive complaints about individuals who take over a thread or forum, we reserve the right to ban them from the site, without recourse.
  • Only English comments will be allowed.

Perpetrators of spam or abuse will be deleted from the site and prohibited from future registration at’s discretion.

Write your thoughts here
Are you sure you want to delete this chart?
Post also to:
Replace the attached chart with a new chart ?
Your ability to comment is currently suspended due to negative user reports. Your status will be reviewed by our moderators.
Please wait a minute before you try to comment again.
Thanks for your comment. Please note that all comments are pending until approved by our moderators. It may therefore take some time before it appears on our website.
Comments (1)
Brad Albright
Brad Albright Aug 06, 2022 8:31AM ET
Saved. See Saved Items.
This comment has already been saved in your Saved Items
This reporting is amateurish: Quotations and opinions are attributed to unidentified security analysts, diplomats, military attaches and officials.
Are you sure you want to delete this chart?
Replace the attached chart with a new chart ?
Your ability to comment is currently suspended due to negative user reports. Your status will be reviewed by our moderators.
Please wait a minute before you try to comment again.
Add Chart to Comment
Confirm Block

Are you sure you want to block %USER_NAME%?

By doing so, you and %USER_NAME% will not be able to see any of each other's's posts.

%USER_NAME% was successfully added to your Block List

Since you’ve just unblocked this person, you must wait 48 hours before renewing the block.

Report this comment

I feel that this comment is:

Comment flagged

Thank You!

Your report has been sent to our moderators for review
Continue with Google
Sign up with Email