US aircraft carrier strike group returns to South China Sea amid tensions with Taiwan

US aircraft carrier strike group returns to South China Sea amid tensions with Taiwan
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Crew members work on the deck of the USS Ronald Reagan in the South China Sea September 30, 2017. REUTERS/Bobby Yip

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HONG KONG, Jul 28 (Reuters) – A U.S. aircraft carrier and its strike group have returned to the South China Sea after a port call in Singapore, deploying to the disputed region as tensions rise with China over a possible visit to Taiwan of the leader of the Congress. Nancy Pelosi.

U.S. Navy 7th Fleet officials confirmed the deployment of the USS Ronald Reagan to the vital trade route, but did not comment on questions about tensions over the trip by U.S. House Speaker Pelosi. USA

“The USS Ronald Reagan and her strike group are underway, operating in the South China Sea following a successful port visit to Singapore,” Commander Hayley Sims said in a statement to Reuters.

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Sims added that the Reagan “is continuing normal scheduled operations as part of her routine patrol in support of a free and open Indo-Pacific.”

Asked for comment, China’s foreign ministry said the United States was once again “flexing its muscles” in the South China Sea with the Reagan’s sailing.

“From this it becomes clear for everyone to see who is the greatest threat to the South China Sea and the peace and stability of the Asian region,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said in a statement on Thursday. regular briefing.

News of the Japan-based airline’s deployment comes as Beijing and Washington trade diplomatic jabs over Pelosi’s visit, which is reportedly due next month after being postponed earlier in the year. Pelosi has not confirmed the possible trip.

US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said Wednesday that he had spoken with Pelosi and given her a security assessment, but that any comment on a trip she might take to Taiwan would have to come from his office. read more

Tensions over democratically-ruled Taiwan are expected to be discussed when US President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping have their fifth phone call, which could take place on Thursday. read more

China has issued stern warnings to US officials about Pelosi’s possible visit to Taiwan, a Chinese foreign minister said on Monday. Beijing regards Taiwan as part of its territory and has never given up using force to bring the island under its control.

The Reagan strike group had been operating in the South China Sea earlier in the month before heading for a five-day rest stop in Singapore at the weekend.

Singapore-based security expert Ian Storey said he would expect Chinese ships to follow the strike group, based on recent actions and latest tensions.

“Most of the time those interactions are safe and professional, but there is always a risk that they get too close and cause a confrontation,” said Storey, from the ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute.

US officials on Tuesday accused China of ramping up “provocations” against rival claimants in the South China Sea, saying its “aggressive and irresponsible behavior” meant it was only a matter of time before a major incident or accident occurred. read more

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Information from Greg Torode; Additional reporting by Martin Quin Pollard; Edited by Kim Coghill

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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