Following House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's visit to Taipei last week, China deployed dozens of People's Liberation Army naval warships, including carrier battle groups, around Taiwan, effectively forming a blockade if Beijing seeks to enforce it.
In response, the U.S. has ordered at least two of its own carrier battle groups to remain in waters near Taiwan since Beijing has refused to withdraw its warship following live-fire show of force drills following the California Democrat's departure.
"We’ve been watching this very, very closely. It’s concerning. It’s not just concerning to us, but it’s concerning, of course, to the people of Taiwan. It’s concerning to our allies in the region, especially Japan," National Security Council (NSC) spokesman John Kirby said in statements to MSNBC Thursday.
"The provocateur here is Beijing. They didn’t have to react this way to what is completely normal travel by congressional members to Taiwan...The Chinese are the ones who are escalating this," Kirby added.
"One of the things that’s troublesome about exercises like this or missile launches like this is the risk of calculation, the risk of a mistake that could actually lead to some sort of conflict," he warned.
Location (as of yesterday) of 3 US Navy carrier/expeditionary strike groups—USS Ronald Reagan, USS Tripoli & USS America —currently operating in Asian waters around ??.
— Franz-Stefan Gady (@HoansSolo) August 4, 2022
Kirby said earlier this week that the Chinese Communist government has "chosen to overreact" to Pelosi's trip.
"We condemn these actions, which are irresponsible and at odds with our long-standing goal of maintaining peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait and in the region," Kirby told reporters at the White House.
"China has chosen to overreact and use the Speaker's visit as a pretext to increase provocative military activity in and around the Taiwan Strait," he said.
Taiwanese and Chinese officials have both announced that for all intents and purposes, China is engaging in a blockade of Taiwan which, if fully enforced and made permanent, will quickly cripple the island and its ability to defend itself, according to private intelligence firm Forward Observer.
"These exercises could easily segue into a complete blockade of Taiwan, including a seizure of Japan’s Senkakus and Nansei islands. At a minimum, this week likely marks the point when China commences its forced reunification of Taiwan, a process that will likely occur over many months of information operations, military provocations and operations, as well as political warfare within the borders of Taiwan," the firm said in an analysis earlier this week.
On Friday, the intelligence firm noted in an additional analysis after Bejing sortied an additional second aircraft carrier battle group: "China is either conducting an extremely detailed rehearsal of an air and sea blockade of Taiwan, or it is in the early process of setting one in place.
"The size of these snap military exercises is unprecedented. Generally, it is not a smart strategy to demonstrate such detailed plans and intentions for future military action, so it is possible that these exercises will morph into an actual long-term blockade of Taiwan," the analysis continued.
On Thursday, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, a retired four-star Army general, ordered the USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier and its battle group to loiter in waters near Taiwan for a longer, unspecified period of time.
"They'll be there for a little bit longer than they were originally planned," Kirby, himself a retired Navy admiral, told reporters. "I won't get ahead of the ship's schedule, but the president believed it was a prudent thing to do, to leave her and her escort ships there just a little bit longer."
China is pressing World War III at a time when America's weakest and most Beijing-compromised president is in the White House.