Two US aircraft carrier battle groups have staged a rare exercise in the South China Sea in an apparent show of support for Taiwan as China conducts its biggest ever war games.
The USS Carl Vinson and the USS Constellation led Friday's one-day exercise involving 13 other vessels including three submarines, about 150 aircraft and more than 15,000 personnel.
The exercise was a "rare meeting at sea" for two US battle groups, an official report on the US 7th Fleet's Web site said.
The "passing exercise" was believed to have comprised the launching of fighter jets and joint operations between crews from the giant aircraft carriers.
"Along with the valuable training benefits achieved during the exercise, the meeting of the two aircraft carrier battle groups on the high seas demonstrates a commitment to providing peace and cooperation in the region while preserving the right to freedom of navigation," it said.
The Web site report did not give the exact location in the South China Sea for the exercises. The Constellation is due to arrive in Hong Kong tomorrow for a port call.
A spokesman for the 7th Fleet told the South China Morning Post the exercises were not intended to send a "specific message" to China, but analysts quoted by the newspaper were doubtful.
They said the rare US show of force was a pointed message to Beijing as the People's Liberation Army conducts big war games on the southern coast facing Taiwan.
"There are no coincidences around the Taiwan Strait and the Americans would have been fully aware of the PLA exercises when they planned this," said Paul Beaver, an independent defense analyst in Britain. "They are demonstrating to the PLA that they have an interest in the future of Taiwan."
"It is a very obvious response to the [PLA] exercise," said Joanna Kidd, a naval analyst at the International Institute of Strategic Studies in London.
Taiwan said yesterday it did not know exactly what the two US aircraft carriers were doing in the South China Sea, but was looking into it.
"We are checking with related agencies to learn more about it," defense ministry spokesman Huang Suey-sheng (黃穗生) said.
But he said the US can do what it likes in the unrestricted stretch of ocean.
China has begun final preparations for its largest ever military exercises which would simulate an invasion of the Penghu islands, the Beijing-backed Hong Kong newspaper Wen Wei Po said yesterday.
In the third phase of the "Liberation No.1" drill on Dongshan Island in China's Fujian Province, PLA troops will try to "strongly resist US intervention" over Taiwan, the daily said. The drills, which started in April, involve more than 100,000 troops from military divisions across China as well as naval and air forces, it said.
Apart from occupying an outlying Taiwanese island, the Chinese exercises are aimed at "fighting off an aircraft carrier," the South China Morning Post said. Taiwan does not have any aircraft carriers.
‘WEAK POSITIVE’: The man arrived in Taiwan in May and was quarantined for two weeks, Chen Shih-chung said, adding that he might be infected a long time ago The government is considering tightening mask-wearing rules again in light of a potential domestic COVID-19 infection, Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) said yesterday. The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) confirmed seven new COVID-19 cases, six of which are imported. The other case involves a Belgian engineer who entered Taiwan on May 3 and remained in quarantine until May 17, said Chen, who heads the CECC. Although the source of infection has yet to be identified, the case could end the nation’s record of not having any domestic cases in the previous 110 days. The Belgian, in his 20s, is a technician
BRIBERY CASE: President Tsai Ing-wen accepted Su Jia-chyuan’s resignation as he said that he deeply regretted causing trouble for the president due to the investigation Presidential Office Secretary-General Su Jia-chyuan (蘇嘉全) yesterday resigned after his nephew, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Su Chen-ching (蘇震清), was implicated in a bribery case related to a dispute over the ownership of Pacific Sogo Department Store (太平洋崇光百貨). “I resigned from the post so that President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) would not be bothered by it anymore, and the prosecutors can investigate the case in a fair and just manner. I thank President Tsai once again for supporting me. May the country continue to prosper under her leadership,” Su Jia-chyuan said in a statement. The Presidential Office said that Tsai has accepted
‘INCREASINGLY FAVORED’: Taiwan’s ‘transparent laws and efficient courts’ as well as its financial institutions give it a major advantage to become a financial hub, Tsai said Taiwan would liberalize banking and investment rules to establish itself as a regional financial hub, President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) told the Taiwan Capital Market Forum in Taipei yesterday. Recent world events could be an opening for Taiwan to become an international center for business investments and financial management, Tsai said at the forum, which was organized by the Chinese-language Liberty Times (the sister publication of the Taipei Times). “We’re facing unknowns in the world right now, including the continuing impact of US-China trade tensions and the reorganization of the global supply chain after COVID-19,” Tsai said. “These bring new challenges and opportunities.” Tsai
ALEX AZAR: The first visit by a head of the Department of Health and Human Services would strictly observe the CECC’s special regulations, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said US Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Alex Azar is to lead a delegation to Taiwan — the highest-level visit by a US Cabinet official since the two sides cut formal relations in 1979. The plan was announced yesterday morning by the US Department of Health and Human Services and confirmed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA). Beijing has expressed its concerns to Washington, Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Wang Wenbin (汪文斌) said later yesterday. Taiwan and the US only issued statements saying that the visit would happen “in the coming days.” MOFA said that due to security concerns, it would