On Taiwan: Did US fighter jets escort Speaker Pelosi to Taiwan?

Taipei Times

Mon, Aug 22, 2022 

page 8
By John J. Tkacik  
Taipei Times readers may not have noticed, but for several days at the beginning of the month, there was a considerable amount of American jet fighter activity out of Okinawa. On Saturday, July 30, Ryukyu Shimpo (琉球新報) reported the unusual arrival of nine refueling tankers at Kadena Air Base (嘉手納空軍基地). Then, just after dark at 2100 hours Tuesday, August 2, eight US Air Force F-15 “Eagle” fighters flying out of Kadena flashed onto civilian aviation radar screens roughly 50 nautical miles east of Taipei. They were configured for either “combat air patrol” (CAP) or “defensive counter-air” (DCA) maneuvers. Attending these eight heavily-armed American jets were another four American KC-135 tanker aircraft farther east.
This twelve-ship air mission was visible because its transponder signals were live and were reported by an amateur aviation website in Japan using the Twitter handle “@TokyoRadar.” “@TokyoRadar” tweeted that the twelve aircraft returned to Kadena at midnight after four hours in the air.
Early the following evening, Japan’s NHK news website reported that another six American F-15 fighter jets had launched from Kadena air base at 1720 hours. The Wednesday mission was accompanied by three large in-flight refueling KC-135s. These nine aircraft proceeded to the same rendezvous point over the seas east of Taiwan, arriving at about 1900 hours.
The timing of these missions suggests they were part of combined US Navy and Air Force protective operations for US Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s controversial travel to Taipei. It was no coincidence that the Speaker’s “special air mission” US Air Force Boeing 737-700 entered Taiwan airspace late Tuesday night — exactly as the eight F-15 Eagles from Kadena loitered within a 50 nautical mile radius to ensure her safety; and it departed Taipei Songshan airport for Seoul the following evening to meet the six F-15 Eagle escort which again enclosed the Boeing 737 in a DCA bubble several dozen miles wide.
Not only were there US Air Force fighter formations in the air to cover Speaker Pelosi’s Taipei arrival and departure, on seas east of Taiwan the US Navy’s USS Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group (CSG) steamed with a full air wing embarked. The Reagan cancelled a port call in Vietnam the week ahead of Ms. Pelosi’s Taiwan journey and made way at flank speed out to the Philippine Sea. At the last moment, the Pelosi air mission flight-path had made a wide diversion over Borneo and Celebes, thence north along the east coast of the Philippine Islands, a maneuver necessary to avoid a fraught direct transit of the South China Sea. As Pelosi’s airplane approached nighttime Taiwan from the east, the massive helicopter carrier USS Tripoli with its Marine air wing of vertical take-off/landing F-35 “Lightning” fighters embarked, stood sentinel upon the seas below.
Both the USS Reagan and the USS Tripoli task forces remained in the waters east of Taiwan through the Pelosi visit and through the subsequent Chinese missile strikes of August 4-7, both to gather telemetry from the Chinese ballistic missiles and to provide support to Taiwan military, air and naval forces should China provoke a crisis.
In fact, these two aircraft carriers and their fleets remain in the Philippine Sea off Taiwan as of this writing. Biden’s top Indo-Pacific aide, Kurt Campbell, said on Friday August 12, “President Biden directed the USS Ronald Reagan to stay on station as the PRC continued its provocative activities.” The Tripoli remains as well. It is a show of American military force in the Taiwan area unseen since the Formosa Strait Crisis of 1958.
But it was unavoidable. As soon as news of Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s possible visit to Taiwan was reported by the Financial Times on July 19, Beijing’s propaganda machine pelted both US Speaker Pelosi and Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) with a steady hail of threats, insults and opprobrium in increasing volume and violence.
On Friday morning, July 28, President Biden himself phoned Chinese State Chairman Xi Jinping (習近平) to calm the waters, but to no avail. Both in public media and in confidential demarches China’s reactions became ever more strident and ominous. The Financial Times reported “one person said China had expressed ‘stronger opposition’ to the US in private than before.” And that “several other people familiar with the situation said the private rhetoric went even further by suggesting a possible military response.” In tandem with back-channel Chinese ultimatums, China’s state-controlled social media unleashed vituperation. The day after news of Pelosi’s putative visit, commentator Hu Xijin (胡錫進) suggested “PLA military aircraft will accompany Pelosi’s plane to enter the island, making a historic crossing of the island by military aircraft from the mainland for the 1st time. Its significance would overwhelm Pelosi’s visit.”
Speaker Pelosi was unimpressed, even as Biden’s national security adviser Jake Sullivan, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman General Mark A. Milley, Indo-Pacific Command chief Admiral John C. Aquilino and others briefed her on the elaborate and complex military planning necessary to protect her travel. By Saturday July 23, according to Josh Rogin of The Washington Post, plans were under way to deploy the Reagan and the Tripoli to Taiwan and to assign air force fighter jets “for close air support.” In the end, General Milley, no doubt aware of the Speaker’s firm intention to continue with her Taiwan plans, told reporters, “If there’s a decision made that Speaker Pelosi or anyone else is going to travel and they asked for military support, we will do what is necessary to ensure a safe conduct of their visit.”
I suspect US officials expended little effort to sugar-coat this news for Beijing. Chinese interlocutors stepped up the heat. Chinese Defense Ministry spokesman Senior Col. Tan Kefei (譚克非) said July 26, “the Chinese military will never sit idly by and will certainly take strong and resolute measures to thwart any interference by external forces.”
Perhaps on instructions from the Central Propaganda Department, Global Times commentator Hu Xijin could contain himself no longer. On Friday, July 29, he tweeted, “if US fighter jets escort Pelosi’s plane into Taiwan, it is invasion. The PLA has the right to forcibly dispel Pelosi’s plane and the US fighter jets, including firing warning shots and making tactical movement of obstruction. If ineffective, then shoot them down.”
At this, the censors at Twitter balked. Advocating the assassination of the Speaker of the US House of Representatives is too much, even for them. Twitter blocked Hu Xijin’s account and the next day Hu was compelled to delete his offending tweet.
But the damage was done. Ms. Pelosi was more determined than ever to see her Taipei journey through to the end. 
In truth, Speaker Pelosi has braved much more dangerous travel in just the past few months.
 On May 1, one day after Russian rockets rained down upon United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres visiting Kyiv, Ms. Pelosi flew secretly into the Ukrainian capital to meet with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and to reassure Ukrainians of the US Congress’s strong support for their resistance to Russia. Her Ukraine touchdown was successful — and secret. Pelosi tried to keep her Taiwan plans secret, too, but they were leaked to reporters by administration officials who hoped to derail her travel. Once public, however, no amount of threats could dissuade her.
In my last column, I explained: 
so long as China pretends to have a ‘peaceful’ policy toward Taiwan, the United States will pretend to have a ‘one China’ policy.” 
And I suspect that every time a senior US official meets a Chinese counterpart, this reality is explained and re-explained. At last, the message seems to be soaking in.
On August 10, Beijing’s “State Council Taiwan Affairs Office” suddenly issued a “White Paper on the Taiwan Question.” It was only the third such “White Paper” in three decades. The first one was issued one day before the first Cross-Strait talks in Beijing in August 1993; that 1993 version mentioned the word “peaceful” 22 times. The second came in February 2000, right before the election of Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) as president of Taiwan. It included the word “peaceful” 20 times. This August 2022 iteration, entitled “The Taiwan Question and China’s Reunification in the New Era,” mentions “peaceful reunification” 55 times!
 It’s not much, but it’s something.
 Perhaps Beijing’s condescension to repeat the word “peaceful” 55 times in this rare, once-a-generation “Taiwan” policy document was coaxed out of the Chinese state council by Speaker Pelosi’s fighter escorts.
John J. Tkacik, Jr. is a retired US foreign service officer who has served in Taipei and Beijing and is now director of the Future Asia Project at the International Assessment and Strategy Center.




" ... I have always felt that strength and diplomacy go together. If you go to a negotiation and you do not have any strength, you are going to get your head handed to you. ..." - George Shultz: 






2022/08/21 05:30
譚慎格(John J. Tkacik)


雷根號領軍 部署台灣東部海域
這些行動的時機表明,這是美國海軍和空軍為了美國聯邦眾議院議長裴洛西引發疑慮的台北之行,而執行的聯合護航行動的一部分。在護送裴洛西議長的「特種空中勤務」(special air mission)中,一架美國空軍波音737-700型專機在週二深夜進入台灣領空並非巧合,當時有八架F-15鷹式戰機從嘉手納基地起飛,在半徑五十海里範圍內巡邏,以確保議長座機的安全;三日傍晚,裴洛西專機從台北松山機場飛往南韓首爾,與六架F-15鷹式護航機會合,這架波音737飛機再次被納入一個數十英里寬的DCA防護網。
不僅美國空軍戰機編隊在空中掩護裴洛西議長抵達和離開台北,在台灣東部海域,還有美國海軍「雷根號」航空母艦打擊群(CSG)搭載一支滿編的艦載機聯隊。在裴洛西女士前往台灣的前一週,雷根號取消了在越南的停靠,以最高速率航向菲律賓海。在航程的尾聲,裴洛西座機的飛行路線在婆羅洲和印尼蘇拉威西島(Celebes)上空大幅改道,沿著菲律賓群島東海岸向北直飛,這是一個必要的策略,以避開直接通過南海可能帶來的安全疑慮。當裴洛西的座機在夜間從東部接近台灣時,龐大的「的黎波里號」(USS Tripoli)直升機航空母艦(helicopter carrier)載著垂直起降的陸戰隊F-35「閃電」(Lightning)戰機聯隊,在下方的海面上值勤。
台灣周邊地區 美再度展示軍力
事實上,直到我在寫這篇文章的時候,這兩艘航艦及其艦隊都還停留在台灣附近的菲律賓海海域。八月十二日週五,美國總統拜登的印度—太平洋事務協調官坎貝爾(Kurt Campbell)說:「由於中華人民共和國持續其挑釁活動,拜登總統已指示雷根號留在當地待命。」的黎波里號也同樣留守原地。這是自一九五八年福爾摩沙海峽危機以來,美國首次在台灣周邊地區展示軍力。
然而,這種武力展示勢在必行。英國《金融時報》(Financial Times)在七月十九日披露裴洛西議長可能訪台的消息後,北京的宣傳機器傾巢而出,向裴洛西議長和台灣總統蔡英文發出鋪天蓋地的威脅、侮辱和謾罵。
儘管拜登的國家安全顧問蘇利文(Jake Sullivan)、參謀首長聯席會議主席密利(Mark A. Milley)將軍、印度—太平洋司令部司令阿基里諾(John C. Aquilino)海軍上將等人,都向裴洛西簡報保護她這段航程所需的精心且複雜的軍事規劃,但裴洛西議長對此並不感興趣。到了七月廿三日週六,《華盛頓郵報》專欄作家羅金(Josh Rogin)指出,美軍計畫將雷根號和的黎波里號部署到台灣,並調派空軍戰機「執行密接空中支援(CAS)」。 最後,密利將軍無疑知道議長繼續進行訪台計畫的堅定意志,他對記者說:「如果裴洛西議長或任何人決定出訪,並提出軍事協助請求,我們都將提供必要措施確保行程的安全。」
中共武嚇 反促使裴洛西堅定訪台
不過,傷害已經造成了。裴洛西女士比以往任何時候都更加堅定地要將她的台北之行進行到底。事實上,就在幾個月前,裴洛西議長已經冒著更大的風險出訪。五月一日,在俄羅斯向訪問烏克蘭首都基輔的聯合國秘書長古特瑞斯(Antonio Guterres)發射火箭彈的隔天,裴洛西秘密飛抵基輔,與烏克蘭總統澤倫斯基(Volodymyr Zelensky)會面,並向烏克蘭人保證,美國國會大力支持他們抵抗俄羅斯入侵。她的烏克蘭行程很成功,也是全程保密。裴洛西也試圖不讓外界得知她訪問台灣的計畫,卻被希望阻撓她出訪的行政部門官員洩漏給記者。然而,一旦訪台計畫被公開,再多的威脅也無法阻止她。
第三份對台白皮書 「和平」敲55次




For more information

For more information or to schedule a speaking engagement, please use our Contact form.

Mailing Address:
1307 Westgrove Blvd.
Alexandria, Virginia 22307

Phone Number: