Britain announced that it will permanently deploy two warships in Asian waters USS Queen Elizabeth In September, the escort ship will sail to Japan through the waters where China competes with the United States and Japan for influence.
The high-profile visit to the Aircraft Carrier Strike Group program comes as the United Kingdom has deepened its security relationship with Tokyo. In recent months, Tokyo has expressed increasing concerns about China’s territorial ambitions in the region (including Taiwan).
The British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said in a joint statement in Tokyo on Tuesday with the Japanese Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi: “Following the first deployment of the strike group, the United Kingdom will permanently station two ships in the area starting later this year.”
After the two held a meeting, Kishiko responded to Wallace.
He said: “We reaffirmed our common position, which is to firmly oppose attempts to change the status quo through coercion and the importance of a free and open Indo-Pacific region based on the rule of law.”
Kishi said that upon arrival in Japan, the Queen Elizabeth and its frigate will part ways and dock at US and Japanese naval bases on the Japanese archipelago.
In a statement on deployment, a Pentagon spokesperson congratulated the United Kingdom for its “commitment to building a network of interconnected allies and partners who cooperate with each other and support the freedom of navigation and rule-based order in the Indo-Pacific region.”
As a close ally of the United States, Japan has the largest U.S. military power outside the United States, including ships, aircraft, and troops.
The British aircraft carrier carrying the F-35B stealth jet on its maiden voyage will dock at Yokosuka, the seat of the Japanese Fleet Headquarters, and the USS Ronald Reagan, the only forward-deployed aircraft carrier in the United States.
A spokesperson for the British Embassy in Tokyo was asked which ports the Royal Navy ships will operate in, saying that British ships will not have permanent bases.
Important news-It is confirmed that the British Carrier Strike Group will conduct business with the United States, Australia, France, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea in the coming months. ???????????? # CSG21
— Commander of British Aircraft Carrier Strike Group (@smrmoorhouse) July 19, 2021
‘Increase regional participation’
The Queen Elizabeth was escorted by two destroyers, two frigates, two support ships, and ships from the United States and the Netherlands.
It will sail to Japan through the disputed South China Sea, where China and Southeast Asian countries have full or partial sovereignty over the South China Sea, and will dock in India, Singapore and South Korea.
Wallace stated that Britain has an “obligation” to maintain freedom of navigation on the way to Japan.
In addition, the offshore patrol ships HMS Spey and HMS Tamar will be permanently deployed to the area starting next month, supported by ships from Australia, Japan and Singapore.
Wallace, who visited Japan with a delegation of military commanders, said that the UK will eventually deploy a Littoral Response Team, which is a Marine Corps unit trained in evacuation and counter-terrorism missions. This is a growing trend for the UK. Further signs of increased regional participation. .
China claims sovereignty In most parts of the South China Sea, it angered its neighbors in the region and triggered protests in more distant areas, including the US government.Its claim on the so-called “nine-dash line” was also rejected by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague because No legal basis.
Wallace told The Times in Tokyo: “It’s no secret that China is tracking and challenging ships passing through international waters on very legal routes.”
“We will respect China, and we hope that China will respect us,” he said, emphasizing: “We will sail where permitted by international law.”
Last month, Russia’s alleged British destroyer violated its territory In the Black Sea.
For all its power projections, the Royal Navy’s deployment is not immune to COVID-19. Earlier this month, more than 100 of the 1,600 crew of the Queen Elizabeth were shot down while calling at the port of Cyprus.
Wallace stated that these ships will comply with the strict COVID-19 agreement in Japan, and emphasized the two countries’ joint commitment to “protect the rules-based international order” at a press conference.