One of the British war ships accompanying the Queen Elizabeth strike group (Photo courtesy: HMS Queen Elizabeth Twitter)
The UK plans to deploy two warships permanently in the Indo-Pacific region, according to Japanese news agency Kyodo.
The British presence in the region would be a direct response to an aggressive China which has threatened to take over Taiwan, even if it means launching an attack on the island. Japan and the US have urged China to resolve its differences with Taiwan amicably.
Important news – confirming the UK Carrier Strike Group will operate with the US, Australia, France, Japan, New Zealand & Republic of Korea in the coming months. 🇺🇸🇦🇺🇫🇷🇯🇵🇳🇿🇰🇷 #CSG21— Commander UK Carrier Strike Group (@smrmoorhouse) July 19, 2021
The plan is to leave behind two war ships from the Queen Elizabeth strike group when it reaches the region in August-September. The group, which had set sail from Portsmouth, the UK, in May this year, recently engaged with the Indian Navy in the Indian Ocean. It is accompanied by American and Dutch ships.
UK's Defence Secretary Ben Wallace and his Japanese counterpart Defence Minister Nobuo Kishi addressed the media in Tokyo over issues related to defence cooperation between the two nations and over challenges in the region due to Chinese belligerence.
The two leaders also affirmed their commitment to a rules-based international order and a free and open Indo-Pacific. Wallace said: "We will respect China and we hope that China respects us. We will sail where international law allows.”
Japan has been actively expanding security relations with European nations in view of Chinese assertion in the region. Beijing claims sovereignty over most of the South China Sea through the Nine Dash Line, raising conflicts with numerous countries in the region.
In response to Chinese threats, navies from the US, France, Australia, Japan and Germany have been sailing in the contested waters of the South China Sea and the Taiwan Strait. In a few weeks time, the UK too will join them.