China warned the US to steer clear of Taiwan, but the US Navy says it could send an aircraft carrier through the strait if it wanted

  • The US Navy has left the door open to sending an aircraft carrier through the Taiwan Strait, the Navy’s top officer revealed Friday, according to Reuters.
  • China views Taiwan as a renegade province and has warned the US against “outside influence.”
  • The last time a US carrier transited the Taiwan Strait was when the USS Kitty Hawk did so in 2007.

The US Navy is not ruling out the possibility of sending an aircraft carrier through the Taiwan Strait, Navy leadership said on Friday.

“We don’t really see any kind of limitation on whatever type of ship could pass through those waters,” Chief of US Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson told reporters in Tokyo, Reuters reported. “We see the Taiwan Strait as another (stretch of) international waters, so that’s why we do the transits.”

Richardson’s statement in the Japanese capital reflects the US military’s determination to operate wherever international law allows.

The US Navy sent warships through the Taiwan Strait three times last year, but it hasn’t sent a carrier through the tense waterway in more than a decade, the last transit by an aircraft carrier being carried out by the USS Kitty Hawk in 2007.


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The US Navy sent destroyers USS Mustin and USS Benfold trough the Taiwan Strait in July 2018. The destroyer USS Curtis Wilbur and cruiser USS Antietam did the same in October, and one month later, the destroyer USS Stockdale, accompanied by the underway replenishment oiler USNS Pecos, followed suit.

There were reports last June that the US was considering sending an aircraft carrier through the strait but decided against it, possibly to avoid severely escalating tensions with Beijing, which is sensitive to foreign military activities around Taiwan, an autonomous democratic territory perceived by the mainland as a renegade province.

China has sent its own aircraft carrier through the Taiwan Strait and flown bombers around the island repeatedly as a warning to pro-independence forces.

“The Taiwan issue is an internal matter of China, concerns China’s fundamental interests and the national feelings of the Chinese people, and no outside interference will be tolerated,” Chinese General Li Zuocheng said in a meeting with Richardson earlier this week.

“If anyone wants to separate Taiwan from China, the Chinese army will defend the unity of the motherland at any cost,” he added. Chinese leadership has stressed that it has not ruled out the use of force to achieve reunification.

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