In a show of support for its allies, the UK Defense Secretary announced plans to send warships to the South China Sea region permanently. They will have to sail in international waters that the Chinese communist regime claims as its own.
According to Daily Mail, Ben Wallace, British Defense Secretary, confirmed that HMS Queen Elizabeth and its escort fleet would transit international waters claimed by China next month, stating that Britain has a “duty” to insist on freedom of navigation.
The communist regime has gradually become more aggressive in the region over its claims to sovereignty of South China Sea waters which has provoked reaction not only from the UK but from all allies, including Australia, Japan, the United States, France, New Zealand, and South Korea.
Secretary Wallace confirmed that the dispatch of the aircraft carriers and destroyers was a show of support for the allies in response to the threat from Beijing.
On a visit to Tokyo, Mr. Wallace said, “It’s no secret that China shadows and challenges ships transiting international waters on very legitimate routes.”
“We will respect China and we hope that China respects us … we will sail where international law allows,” he added.
The UK and Japanese governments signed an agreement in May to intensify trade deals and cooperation on security matters.
Tokyo has expressed its concern to the British government over the growing aggressiveness of the communist regime, which recently threatened to take Taiwan by force.
The British fleet will arrive in Japan via the South China Sea after stops in India, Singapore, and South Korea. It will conduct military exercises in the Philippine Sea with allies in the region.
The British aircraft carrier, carrying F-35B fighter jets on its maiden voyage, will dock at Yokosuka, home to the Japanese fleet and the USS Ronald Reagan.
The Queen Elizabeth will be escorted by two destroyers, two frigates, two support ships, and ships from the United States and the Netherlands.
“Following on from the strike group’s inaugural deployment, the United Kingdom will permanently assign two ships in the region from later this year,’ Mr. Wallace said in a joint announcement in Tokyo with his Japanese counterpart, Nobuo Kishi.
While steadfast in his principle of advocacy for freedom of navigation in international waters, the British official was optimistic that although the situation in the region is tense, it is far from ending in a warlike conflict.
“The world is a more anxious place, and as a result more on edge,’ he said. ‘There is definitely a danger that that anxiousness tips into more aggressive measures, but I think we are still some way off a military conflict in Asia.”
Russia, Beijing’s potential ally
Although Moscow’s relationship with Beijing is not as clear as that of allies who conduct joint military exercises, the CCP, being isolated in its rivalry with the United States, views positively a possible alliance with Russia, which also seeks to repel Western expansion in its region and Beijing’s help is almost the only option.
According to the Indian Times, in October last year, Putin explicitly mentioned the possibility of a military alliance between Moscow and Beijing for the first time, saying it was “theoretically…possible.”
Russian experts said the likelihood of a formal agreement remained remote and that the comments were meant to warn Washington against escalating tensions with both nations.
Still, the military might of the United States, United Kingdom, Japan, Australia, France, New Zealand, and South Korea should be more than enough for the CCP to resort to diplomatic channels rather than seek armed conflict, for which the Chinese army has no real experience.