South China Sea: UK to send huge naval force near tensest waters to ‘signal power’
China confronted by EU for 'disturbing peace in South China Sea'
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The naval force is expected to enter some of the tensest waters in Asia next month. On Monday, UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said: “When our Carrier Strike Group (CSG) sets sail next month, it will be flying the flag for Global Britain – projecting our influence, signalling our power, engaging with our friends and reaffirming our commitment to addressing the security challenges of today and tomorrow.”
He added: “The UK is not stepping back but sailing forth to play an active role in shaping the international system of the 21st century.”
The naval fleet will be led by the aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth – on its first maiden voyage.
The aircraft carrier is Britain’s largest warship to ever be sent to sea.
The HMS Queen Elizabeth ship will be joined by two destroyers, two anti-submarine frigates, a submarine and two auxiliary supply ships, according to the Ministry of Defence.
The US is also expected to join the group with a guided-missile destroyer as well as a warship from the Netherlands.
The ministry said the strike group will visit 40 countries as part of the journey to the Pacific.
However, the exact route has not been released but a visit to Singapore is reportedly planned.
According to CNN, going through the disputed South China Sea would be the most obvious and direct route to its stops in Japan and South Korea.
China has claimed a large part of the South China Sea as its own which has triggered territorial disputes.
The UK, US and several countries which neighbour the South China Sea, have disputed Beijing’s claim over the waters.
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China has previously said it will take action to “safeguard its sovereignty, security and development interest” in the disputed waters.
On Wednesday, the Philippine defence ministry issued a stern warning to China to mind its own business after Manila conducted military exercises in the waters.
Delfin Lorenzana, Philippines Defence Secretary, told reporters that Beijing has “no authority or legal basis to prevent us from conducting these exercises” in the South China Sea because “their claims…have no basis”.
The Philippines started the maritime exercises on Saturday inside the country’s 200-mile Exclusive Economic Zone to counter the “threatening” presence of Chinese boats.
On Monday, China’s foreign ministry told the Philippines to “stop actions complicating the situation and escalating disputes”.
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