A flotilla of Royal Navy of the United Kingdom leaded by HMS Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier will pass through Asian waters on port visits to Japan and South Korea, according to the British embassy in Tokyo. The decision was made after Australia had warned of threats of conflict in the region.
“Today, as free nations again hear the beating drums and watch worryingly the militarisation of issues that we had, until recent years, thought unlikely to be catalysts for war, let us continue to search unceasingly for the chance for peace while bracing again … for the curse of war,” Australia’s Home Affairs Department Secretary Mike Pezzullo claimed amid the sharp deterioration of Chinese-Australian relations and regional tensions between China and Taiwan.
The British carrier strike group, including the Queen Elizabeth and 18 F-35B stealth fighters, two destroyers, two frigates and two support ships will sail through the South China Sea on its way to East Asia. According to the statement made by the Royal Navy on April 26, the flotilla will also stop in India and Singapore.
According to the British government, the flotilla should be joined by US vessels and a frigate from the Netherlands in order to carry out joint exercises with Japan, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, France, the UAE, Denmark, Greece, Italy, Turkey, Israel, India, Oman and South Korea.
A French amphibious carrier and two US navy aircraft carriers are also currently deployed in Asian waters. They are intended to take part in joint drills with Japan from May 11 to 17.
The United Kingdom, as well as the US and its allies, aim to bolster security ties in East Asia amid the growing tensions in the disputed South China Sea. Beijing claims almost the entire sea while the Philippines, Malaysia and Vietnam also claim parts of it.
On the other side, on April 23, three major vessels were commissioned into the Chinese Navy. The destroyer “Dalian”, the landing helicopter dock “Hainan” and the strategic nuclear submarine Changzheng-18 were placed on active service in the South China Sea.