PLA Aircraft Drills Near Taiwan No Threat to U.S., Navy Says

Recent exercises by Chinese military aircraft near Taiwan posed no threat to U.S. forces in the area but were “aggressive and destabilizing” for the region, the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command said in a statement.

People’s Liberation Army planes conducted exercises on Jan. 23 and 24, simulating missile attacks on the USS Theodore Roosevelt carrier strike group, Financial Times reported earlier, citing people familiar with intelligence matters. The Chinese aircraft stayed at least 250 nautical miles away from the U.S. vessel and accompanying warships, the newspaper reported.

“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 U.S. Navy ships, aircraft, or sailors,” U.S. Navy Captain Mike Kafka said in the statement.

The new U.S. administration has reaffirmed its support for Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, signaling continuity with former U.S. President Donald Trump’s policy of engagement with the island. China’s Xi Jinping has cut off communication with Taipei and launched a pressure campaign over Tsai’s refusal to accept that both sides belong to “One China.”

The 70-year-old dispute over Taiwan has re-emerged since the island elected Tsai, of the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party, as president in 2016.

The sortie by eight Xian H-6K bombers and five other planes on Jan. 23 was the third-largest such incursion by PLA aircraft in the past year, according to Taiwanese Defense Ministry data.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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