US Navy chief does not rule out sending aircraft carrier through Taiwan Strait

The aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt leads a formation of US and Singapore ships in the South China Sea on April 6, 2018. (Navy Office of Information/AFP)
Updated 18 January 2019

US Navy chief does not rule out sending aircraft carrier through Taiwan Strait

  • Aircraft carriers, typically equipped with about 80 aircraft and crews of about 5,000, are key to the US military’s ability to project power globally
  • The US Navy continues to pass through waters in the South China Sea that Beijing considers its territory

TOKYO: The US Navy has not ruled out sending an aircraft carrier through the Taiwan Strait, despite military technology advances by China that pose a greater threat to US warships than ever before, the chief of US naval operations said on Friday.
Washington sent ships through the strategic waterway three times last year as it makes more frequent transits of the strait that separates Taiwan from the Chinese mainland, but it has not dispatched a carrier in more than 10 years.
During that time, China has modernized its forces with missiles designed to strike enemy ships.
“We don’t really see any kind of limitation on whatever type of ship could pass through those waters,” Admiral John Richardson told reporters in the Japanese capital, when asked if more advanced Chinese weapons posed too big a risk.
“We see the Taiwan Strait as another (stretch of) international waters, so that’s why we do the transits.”
Aircraft carriers, typically equipped with about 80 aircraft and crews of about 5,000, are key to the US military’s ability to project power globally.
On Tuesday, a US official told Reuters the United States was closely watching Chinese intentions toward Taiwan as advances in military technology give Beijing’s forces greater capability to occupy an island it considers a breakaway province.
In a report, the US Defense Intelligence Agency called Taiwan the “primary driver” for China’s military modernization.
Richardson, who visited China before traveling to Japan, said he told his Chinese counterparts the United States was opposed to any unilateral action by Beijing or Taipei.
He also urged China to stick to international rules during unplanned naval encounters at sea.
That request came after a Chinese destroyer approached the USS Decatur in October and forced it to change course as it challenged Chinese territorial claims in the contested South China Sea with a freedom of navigation operation (FONOP).
“We have made this very clear that this was an excursion, a departure from the normal adherence to those rules and we would hope that behavior in the future would be much more consistent,” Richardson said.
“We should not see each other as a threatening presence in these waters.”
The US Navy continues to pass through waters in the South China Sea that Beijing considers its territory.
On Jan 7, a US guided-missile destroyer sailed within 12 miles of a Chinese-occupied island, prompting Beijing’s rebuke that it had “gravely infringed upon China’s sovereignty.”
China, which claims almost all of the strategic waterway, says its intentions are peaceful. Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam have competing claims.


Taliban talks resume amid hopes of deal

Updated 22 August 2019

Taliban talks resume amid hopes of deal

  • The disclosure came in a context of ongoing bloodshed in Afghanistan after NATO said two US military personnel were killed Wednesday
  • Washington is hoping to strike an agreement with the Taliban by September 1 — ahead of Afghan polls due the same month

DOHA: The US and the Taliban met in Doha on Thursday, an American source close to the talks said, for potentially decisive dialogue to allow Washington to drawdown militarily in Afghanistan.
The source said the talks started around 1300 GMT — the ninth time the two foes have met face-to-face.
The disclosure came in a context of ongoing bloodshed in Afghanistan after NATO said two US military personnel were killed Wednesday, blasts rocked Jalalabad Monday, and the death toll from a weekend wedding bombing reached 80.
Washington’s top commander in Afghanistan General Scott Miller was at the talks venue, according to an AFP correspondent.
The US, which invaded Afghanistan and toppled the Taliban in 2001, wants to withdraw thousands of troops but only in return for the insurgent group renouncing Al-Qaeda and curbing attacks.
Washington is hoping to strike an agreement with the Taliban by September 1 — ahead of Afghan polls due the same month, and US presidential polls due in 2020.
Taliban lead negotiator Abbas Stanikzai told AFP Thursday that overall talks had been “going well.”
The talks are expected to focus on establishing a timeline for the US withdrawal of its more than 13,000 troops in Afghanistan.
“We’ve been there for 18 years, it’s ridiculous,” US President Donald Trump told reporters Tuesday.
“We are negotiating with the government and we are negotiating with the Taliban,” he said.
“We have good talks going and we will see what happens.”
But the thorny issues of power-sharing with the Taliban, the role of regional powers including Pakistan and India, and the fate of Afghanistan’s incumbent administration remain unresolved.
US envoy Zalmay Khalilzad sought to bolster optimism for a peace agreement last week when he said in a tweet that he hoped this is the final year that the country is at war.