Chinese warships appear off Taiwan’s east coast ahead of Pelosi visit
A Chinese missile destroyer and a missile frigate were detected 45 nautical miles southeast of Taiwan’s Orchid Island this morning, as tensions rise ahead of speculation that US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi will arrive later today and meet with Taiwan’s parliamentary body tomorrow.
A visit by Pelosi, second-in-line to the American Presidency would mark the highest level visit of an American official since then House Speaker Newt Gingrich visited Taiwan in 1997.
While Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has remained mute on the subject of a possible visit, media outlet Liberty Times Network quoted unnamed sources as confirming that Pelosi’s special aircraft is scheduled to touch down at Taipei Songshan Airport at 10:20 pm this evening. Pelosi will stay overnight at the Grand Hyatt Hotel before visiting Taiwan’s Legislative Yuan tomorrow morning. Pelosi will then depart Taiwan in the mid-afternoon, according to the Liberty Times report.
Military sources reported an increase in naval activity off the coast of Taiwan, with a Japanese frigate appearing off the southeast coast at around 3:00 am, sailing north. Around one hour later a Chinese PLA type 055 stealth missile destroyer appeared in the same area accompanied by a PLA type 054 missile frigate. The sightings followed two Chinese research ships detected off the east coast yesterday – a marine survey vessel was seen 48 nautical miles from Hualien Port at around 2:00 pm, and another 61 nautical miles southeast of Orchid Island at around 5:00 pm.
The US Navy has deployed the USS Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group just south of Taiwan. The strike group moved from the South China Sea into the Philippine Sea via the Bashi Channel reported USNI News yesterday, August 1. USNI also reports the big-deck amphibious assault ship USS Tripoli operating in the west Pacific. A map accompanying the report shows USS Tripoli directly east of Taiwan.
Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense this morning announced that the three branches of the armed forces will enter an “intensified combat readiness guidance period” from 8:00 am this morning, August 2, until 12:00 pm August 4. Military watchers reported a larger than usual number of sorties taking off from Chiayi Air Base this morning, with F-16Vs taking off fully armed with bombs and missiles. In the meantime, at Taitung Air Base, eight Mirage 2000 fighters arrived to strengthen deployment.
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