The U.S. Pacific Fleet is down two carriers as of Tuesday. The U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt is out of action with the coronavirus and the U.S.S. Ronald Reagan is in port. The Chinese Navy is using this temporary situation to test the U.S. by sending a carrier to sail dangerously close to both Taiwan and Japan. Both nations are U.S. allies.
Japanese Defense officials confirm that the Chinese carrier Liaoning and the five ships in its group passed through the Miyako Strait, which is between the Japanese islands of Okinawa and Miyako, on Saturday. The Chinese warships then headed for Taiwan on Sunday.
These provocations come as the U.S. is dealing with the virus crisis and international tensions are high because of the Chinese propaganda effort to deflect attention away from its disingenuous actions in the early stages of the pandemic. President Trump and his defense team are getting regular briefings on the situation from U.S. Intelligence officials.
U.S. and Japanese forces are monitoring the Chinese force. Japan has sent airborne and seaborne forces to keep an eye on the Chinese ships, while the U.S. has readied B-52s on Guam.
The Chinese action is part of a decades long effort to achieve regional hegemony in the Pacific region and neutralize the U.S. Pacific Fleet. Even though the Chinese carrier group is no match for the battle group of either U.S. carrier, the very fact that the Chinese fleet sailed so close to sensitive areas, they were careful to stay in international waters, speaks volume regarding its intimidation campaign against both Taiwan and Japan.
China regards Taiwan as a breakaway province and has repeatedly hinted at reunification, perhaps by force, at an unspecified time in the future. With the U.S. force in the area incapacitated as of now, allied defense officials are concerned China will use this opportunity to increase its pressure on U.S. allied nations in the region.