The US military on Friday said that Chinese military flights in the past week in the South China Sea fit a pattern of destabilizing and aggressive behavior by Beijing, but posed no threat to a US Navy aircraft carrier strike group in the region.
“The Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group closely monitored all People’s Liberation Army Navy and Air Force activity, and at no time did they pose a threat to US Navy ships, aircraft, or sailors,” the US military’s Pacific Command said in a statement.
A US official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the Chinese aircraft did not come within 250 nautical miles (463km) of the US Navy vessels.
Photo: AFP/US Navy/Conner D. Blake/Handout
Taiwan reported that several Chinese air force aircraft flew into the southwestern corner of its air defense identification zone last weekend, near the Taiwan-controlled Pratas Islands (Dongsha Islands, 東沙群島), including fighter jets and nuclear-capable H-6 bombers.
Regional security and diplomatic sources familiar with the situation said China’s air force was dispatched on missions beginning mid-morning on Saturday last week, coinciding with the US carrier group passing south of the Pratas Islands.
China, which has long geared its military toward defending itself against the US, was conducting exercises that would simulate an operation against an aircraft carrier, the sources said.
“They purposely conducted the drills when the US carrier was passing through the Bashi Channel,” one source said, referring to the waterway between southern Taiwan and the northern Philippines.
“That was not just meant for Taiwan. Most importantly, China is trying to tackle the issue of the South China Sea: It wants to stop the US military from entering the South China Sea. China wants to diminish the United States’ weight in the western Pacific,” the source said.
The sources spoke to reporters on condition of anonymity, as they were not authorized to speak to the media.
The Chinese Ministry of National Defense did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
On Thursday, the ministry toughened its language toward Taiwan, warning after last weekend’s stepped-up military activity near the nation that “independence means war,” and that its armed forces were acting in response to “provocation” and foreign interference.
STRATEGY TWEAK: Arrivals to Taiwan testing positive for COVID-19 are to be escorted to an ambulance via a special exit and hospitalized, the health minister said Starting today, arrivals on long-haul flights must wait for the results of COVID-19 tests before finishing airport entry procedures, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said yesterday. The center also reported six locally transmitted cases of COVID-19, possibly linked to the airport cluster, and 26 imported cases. As more than two dozen local COVID-19 cases have since Monday last week been reported among workers at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport and their close contacts, as well as a few people likely linked to them, the center on Sunday said that entry quarantine procedures would be revised. Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中),
SEARCH CONTINUES: The fighter jet disappeared from radar screens at 3:23pm, about 30 minutes after it took off, air force Major General Liu Hui-chien said Search-and-rescue teams yesterday searched for an air force pilot after his F-16V Block 20 jet went missing during an afternoon bombing exercise near the coastline of Chiayi County’s Dongshih Township (東石鄉), the air force said. The search continued as of press time last evening. The single-seat jet (serial number 6650) disappeared from radar screens at 3:23pm, about 30 minutes after it took off from Chiayi Air Base, air force Inspector General Major General Liu Hui-chien (柳惠千) told a news conference in Taipei. All F-16Vs are temporarily suspended from exercises pending the completion of emergency checks on the fleet, he said. The fighter piloted by
LUNAR NEW YEAR: The nation is expecting 4,200 international travelers to arrive today and 3,900 tomorrow, as people return home for the holidays, the CECC said The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday said it expects imported cases of COVID-19 to further increase today and tomorrow — the peak period for international arrivals before the Lunar New Year holiday. The nation has seen more imported cases of COVID-19 since it implemented a new policy on Tuesday requiring travelers on long-haul flights to undergo a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test upon arrival. Those who test positive are taken directly to hospitals from airports. Most of the recent confirmed cases of COVID-19 were travelers arriving from the US, CECC data showed. On Tuesday, 58 of the 625 travelers arriving at Taiwan
TRACEABLE: The expansion of a cluster infection appears to be slowing, as genome sequencing results show a clearer link among confirmed cases, Chen Shih-chung said The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday reported 96 COVID-19 infections: four domestic and 92 imported cases. Three of the domestically transmitted cases are bank workers likely linked to previously reported airport clusters, it added. Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, attributed the high number of imported cases in part to the implementation on Tuesday of a tighter entry policy. Travelers arriving on long-haul flights are immediately tested for COVID-19 upon arrival and must wait for results of their rapid polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests on site. Those who test negative are allowed to proceed with normal