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Tensions in Asia: Chinese planes flirt with Taiwanese airspace as US ships position themselves east of the island ahead of Nancy Pelosi's visit

Tensions in Asia: Chinese planes flirt with Taiwanese airspace as US ships position themselves east of the island ahead of Nancy Pelosi’s visit

A person familiar with the matter told Reuters that several Chinese fighter planes flew near the dividing line of the Taiwan Strait on Tuesday morning, while four US warships were stationed east of the island, while US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was expected. During the day in Taipei.

A US Navy official confirmed to Reuters on Tuesday that the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan has crossed the South China Sea and is currently in the Philippine Sea, eastern Taiwan and the Philippines, and southern Japan.

The Japan-based Reagan operates a guided missile cruiser, the USS Antietam, and the destroyer USS Higgins.

“Although they are able to respond to any eventuality, these are normal and routine deployments,” said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The US Navy official said the amphibious assault ship USS Tripoli was also in the area as part of a deployment to the area that began in early May from its hometown of San Diego.

China, which considers Taiwan a renegade province and does not rule out the use of force to bring it back into its fold, has repeatedly warned against Nancy Pelosi’s visit to the Democratic island, she said, stoking tensions in the region.

A source said that Beijing has sent several planes to fly near the sensitive Taiwan Strait demarcation line, while several Chinese warships have already been in the area since Monday.

Chinese aircraft movements considered ‘extremely provocative’

This source described the movements of the Chinese aircraft as “extremely provocative.”

China’s Defense and Foreign Ministry did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

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Taiwan’s Defense Ministry said in a statement it had “the determination, ability and confidence” to ensure the island’s security, adding that it had already planned a series of plans – unspecified – to deal with emergencies.

The ministry specifies that it will appropriately distribute the military capabilities it has in the region to confront “enemy threats.”

The official Taiwan News Agency, citing unnamed sources, said Taipei had “increased” the military alert level from Tuesday morning to Thursday noon.

Nancy Pelosi and her delegation may arrive in Taiwan as early as Wednesday, when most of the US representative’s meetings are scheduled for that day — including one with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen — said a person briefed on Pelosi’s itinerary.

“Everything is uncertain,” added this source.