lørdag 31. juli 2021

UK says it has no plans for South China Sea confrontation after Beijing warning

Britain has said it has no plans to stage a naval confrontation with China in the South China Sea and that it aims to send its carrier strike group in the most direct route across the contested body of water from Singapore to the Philippine Sea. The cooling message emerged hours after China’s military and state media warned the UK against provocation as the group, led by Royal Navyaircraft carrier Queen Elizabeth, undertakes what had been expected to be a more assertive deployment.

British defence sources said HMS Queen Elizabeth would sail “tens of miles away” from the disputed Spratly and Paracel Islands, which are claimed by China. The aircraft carrier and allied ships entered the South China Sea earlier this week and are expected to leave by the end of Saturday. It is understood there is no intention to repeat the decision to sail the HMS Defender through disputed waters off the coast of Crimea in June, which led to the warship being followed by the Russian coastguard and being buzzed by low-flying planes.