Danielle Sheridan – The Telegraph : –
British PM Boris Johnson has said the deployment of HMS Queen Elizabeth will show “our friends in China” the UK’s belief in the international law of the sea.
The Prime Minister made his comments ahead of the £3 billion aircraft carrier’s first operational deployment to Asia, where it will interact with more than 40 nations.
Mr Johnson said: “One of the things we’ll be doing clearly is showing to our friends in China that we believe in the international law of the sea, and in a confident but not a confrontational way, we will be vindicating that point.”
Mr Johnson add that while “we don’t want to antagonise anybody”, the Government believes that “the United Kingdom plays a very important role, with friends and partners, the Americans, the Dutch, the Australians, the Indians many, many others, in upholding the rule of law, the international rules-based system on which we all depend”.
It comes after The Telegraph revealed that the warship will sail through the South China Sea (a vital shipping route which Beijing has become increasingly assertive over in recent years) but will not sail through the Taiwan Strait, despite Beijing’s vow to annex Taiwan, which it claims as its territory.
Admiral Lord West, the former first sea lord, previously said such a move was “unnecessary”.
“I think it’s enough of a statement by going through the South China Sea,” he said. “You don’t need to rub people’s faces in it by travelling through the Formosa Strait.”