The U.S. sent an aircraft carrier strike group into the disputed South China Sea the same day China dispatched a fleet of 13 warplanes — including nuclear-capable bombers — into the southwestern corner of Taiwan’s air defense identification zone (ADIZ).
The dispatch of the USS Theodore Roosevelt strike group to the waterway on Saturday was seen as an implicit message to China just days after the inauguration of U.S. President Joe Biden amid a lowpoint in Sino-American ties.
It was unclear if the timing of the Chinese moves near Taiwan and the Roosevelt entering the South China Sea were related, but satellite imagery and tracking websites appeared to show that the carrier had transited the Bashi Channel between Taiwan and the Philippines the same day. The distance between the bombers and the carrier group would have put it within striking distance of Chinese YJ-12 anti-ship missiles, which some of the warplanes have reportedly been outfitted with.
The U.S. Indo-Pacific Command said in a statement Sunday that the carrier strike group was “on a scheduled deployment to the U.S. 7th Fleet to ensure freedom of the seas.”