TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Three aircraft carriers from the U.S. and U.K. and one helicopter carrier from Japan conducted joint exercises just north of Taiwan during a tense weekend that saw 93 Chinese military aircraft buzz the Taiwan Strait.
On Friday (Oct. 1) during China's national day, a record 38 Chinese military aircraft violated Taiwan's ADIZ. The next day, this record was quickly surpassed with 39 more People's Liberation Army Aircraft (PLAAF) planes, and this was followed by 16 more PLAAF aircraft on Sunday (Oct. 3), bringing the three-day total to 93 warplanes.
In response, the U.S. State Department Spokesperson Ned Price issued a statement in which he said the U.S. is "very concerned" about China's "provocative" military actions near Taiwan. He warned that this activity is "destabilizing, risks miscalculations, and undermines regional peace and stability."
On Monday (Oct. 4), the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force (JMSDF) announced that on Saturday and Sunday the aircraft carriers USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76), USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70), HMS Queen Elizabeth (R08), and the helicopter carrier JS Ise (DDH-182) took part in exercises off the southwest coast of Okinawa. Also taking part in the drills were warships from the Royal Netherlands Navy, Royal Canadian Navy, and Royal New Zealand Navy, comprising a total of 17 surface ships from six countries.
According to the JMSDF, the objective of the exercise was to "improve the tactical skills of the Maritime Self-Defense Force and strengthen cooperation with the participating navies." However, Japan's nationalist paper Sankei Shimbun bluntly stated that the purpose of the military maneuvers was to "contain China" as it actively seeks to expand its operations in the surrounding waters.
That same day, the United Kingdom Carrier Strike Group 21 (CSG21) led by the HMS Queen Elizabeth announced on Twitter that it had passed through the Luzon Strait from the Philippine Sea on its way to Singapore, where it plans exercises with the Singapore Navy. In addition, CSG21 Frigate HMS Richmond (F239) took part in exercises with the Vietnamese Navy frigate Dinh Tien Hoang (HQ-011) on Monday, before also heading to Singapore.