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China Deploys Carrier Strike Group as Taiwan's President Visits U.S.

taiwan delegation
Leaders of the U.S. House of Representatives meet with a delegation from the government of Taiwan, April 5 (Speaker Kevin McCarthy)

Published Apr 5, 2023 3:58 PM by The Maritime Executive

China has deployed an aircraft carrier strike group off the southeast coast of Taiwan, sending a clear political message as Taiwan's president meets with U.S. Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy in California.

Beijing has claimed sovereignty over independently-governed Taiwan since  1948, when the Chinese Communist Party defeated Republic of China forces under Chiang Kai-Shek, forcing the ROC to flee to the island. Taiwan has maintained self-governance ever since, and reunifying the island is the CCP's top foreign policy priority. 

Chinese President Xi Jinping has threatened to use military means if necessary to bring the island under mainland China's rule. The Biden administration supports Taiwanese self-governance, and the president has repeatedly suggested that America will intervene militarily to defend the island if China attempts annexation by force. A "Taiwan Strait crisis" is the U.S. Navy's primary focus for contingency planning in the Indo-Pacific.

Tensions between China and Taiwan have been running high since then-Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi visited Taipei last August. After the rare official visit, China demonstrated its displeasure with an unprecedented military drill, launching 11 ballistic missiles and dispatching dozens of aircraft and warships around the island. 

In a quiet echo of last year's show of force, the PLA Navy has sent the carrier Shandong through the Bashi Channel and into the Pacific off Taiwan's southeastern coast, just as Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen met with the leadership of the U.S. House of Representatives at the Reagan Library in California (a less official venue than the U.S. capital). Meanwhile, the PLA Navy destroyer Luyang II transited between Taiwan's northeastern coast and Japan's Senkaku Islands, according to the Japanese defense ministry. 

“In addition to posing a substantial threat to our national security, [the exercise] also destroys the status quo of regional security and stability. Such actions are by no means the acts of a responsible modern country," said Taiwan's Ministry of Defense in a statement.