US Aircraft Carrier Passage of Taiwan Strait Possibility [VIDEO]

US Aircraft Carrier Passage of Taiwan Strait Possibility [VIDEO]

US Aircraft Carrier Passage of Taiwan Strait Possibility [VIDEO]

In another sign of Donald Trump’s “hard ball” approach, US officials on Monday acknowledged plans for the possible passage of an American aircraft carrier through the Taiwan Strait. While smaller Navy ships have transited the strait infrequently in recent years, a carrier – centerpiece of American Naval forces – hasn’t made the controversial journey since 2007. It’s probably time.

Washington: The United States is considering sending a warship through the Taiwan Strait, US officials say, in a move that could provoke a sharp reaction from Beijing at a time when Sino-US ties are under pressure from trade disputes and the North Korean nuclear crisis.

A US warship passage, should it happen, could be seen in Taiwan as a fresh sign of support by President Donald Trump after a series of Chinese military drills around the self-ruled island. China claims Taiwan as part of its territory.

US officials told Reuters that the United States had already examined plans for an aircraft carrier passage once this year but ultimately did not pursue them, perhaps because of concerns about upsetting China.

The last time a US aircraft carrier transited the Taiwan Strait was in 2007, during the administration of George W. Bush, and some US military officials believe a carrier transit is overdue.

USS Ronald Reagan Photo: AP

Tensions in the area have been building ever since the Chinese began constructing defacto military installations on artificially constructed islands in the Paracel and Spratly chains, and bullying the Philippines over territory. Even going so far as attempting to fend off resupply boats for Philippine marines occupying Second Thomas Shoal in the Spratlys.

The dispute between China and the Philippines over the Second Thomas Shoal deserves immediate attention. Since 1999, a small contingent of Philippine marines has been deployed on a vessel that Manila beached on the submerged reef. In 2014, Chinese coast guard ships attempted unsuccessfully to block delivery of food, water, and fresh troops to the military outpost. The condition of the beached ship is rapidly deteriorating and it is expected to slide into the sea in a matter of months unless it is reinforced. This situation could lead to another confrontation between Chinese and Philippine forces should Beijing decide to seize the shoal. The U.S.-Philippines mutual defense treaty could be invoked if, for example, a Philippine naval or coast guard vessel is attacked, a Philippine military aircraft is shot down, or members of the Philippine armed forces are injured.

Economic fact: one third of the world’s commerce is on a boat somewhere in the South China Sea (estimates of up to $5 trillion in goods pass through those waters). Maintaining freedom of navigation is a hard core tenet of the U.S. Navy’s mission. Delightfully, they recently upset some Chinese applecarts with a sashay through those very same Paracel Islands on Sunday.

Two U.S. Navy warships conducted a freedom of navigation operation (FONOP) on Sunday in the South China Sea, near islands occupied by China in the Paracel Islands. The operation is the first known FONOP to involve two U.S. Navy warships.

According to Reuters, which first reported on the operation, a U.S. Navy Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, USS Higgins, and a cruiser, USS Antietam, sailed within 12 nautical miles of islands controlled by China in the disputed Paracel Islands.

“The U.S. military vessels carried out maneuvering operations near Tree, Lincoln, Triton and Woody islands in the Paracels,” Reuters reported, citing a U.S. official with knowledge of the operations.

U.S. freedom of navigation operations are designed to protest maritime claims that are excessive under international law.

In the Paracel Islands, U.S. freedom of navigation operations have been designed to protest China’s prior notification requirements for innocent passage transits with 12 nautical miles of features and Beijing’s straight baselines around the island group, which are illegal under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Declan Barnes/Released

In the case of Taiwan, the stakes are higher and the Chinese intimidation more blatant and menacing. The Chinese scaled down live-fire drills in the Strait last month, but their intent was perfectly clear:

Mainland military sources said that the exercises had been meticulously planned to avoid triggering strong reactions.

…The source added: “It was relatively small-scale because Beijing wanted to send a warning to the separatists and the independence-leaning [Taiwanese president] Tsai Ing-wen administration, not provoke ordinary people’s emotions.”

They’ve continued to send fighters to challenge Taiwanese airspace, however.

And something the Chinese were doing on their phony islands while buzzing Taipei caught the attention of one Chaos Mattis:

SINGAPORE — China’s placement of weapons systems on manmade islands in the South China Sea is designed to intimidate and coerce others in the region, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said Saturday, laying out a sharp criticism of Beijing at an international security forum and threatening larger consequences if militarization continues.

He warned that America’s recent move to disinvite China from a multinational naval exercise this summer was an “initial response” to the militarization of the islands. It was, he said, a “relatively small consequence, I believe there are much larger consequences in the future.”

China relying on muscle to use weapons to pursue goals not favored by international tribunals ” is not a way to make long-term collaboration the rule of the road in a region that’s important to China’s future,” Mattis said, when asked to elaborate more on the consequences. “There are consequences that will continue to come home to roost, so to speak, with China, if they don’t find a way to work more collaboratively with all of the nations who have interests.

Which could well be the catalyst for Monday’s open suggestion of a carrier in the Taiwan Strait. America’s Fortress at Sea in your face. This is NOT the administration that meets open aggression or duplicity with a carrot, pallet of cash and an apology. They are telling you exactly what they expect, exactly what’s acceptable, and exactly what they intend to do to get you where you need to be.

For the world to be a safer place.

I’d love to see the pictures of one of our beauties in the Strait. They are STUNNING in any setting. When they are enforcing the ideals of freedom, keeping the seas safe and projecting American willpower…man. That’s what they were built for.

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  • GWB says:

    I don’t mind sharing the world with China. I mind it being a typical imperialist jerk and just taking what it wants and trying to push the rest of us out of the way.
    Homey don’t play that.

  • Beege Welborn says:

    Precisely, GWB. And they’re not used to being pushed back when they start shoving.

    I hope it’s a truly unpleasant sensation.

  • KP says:

    Always be polite, state your mission and have a plan to carry out the mission.

    If the PRC chooses not to play ball, we do have the capability to shove the bat deep inside them where the sun does not shine.

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