UK to Increase Military Deployment in South China Sea

The UK has plans to beef up its presence in the South China Sea and Indo-Pacific region.

  • UK Carrier Strike Group, led by the HMS Queen Elizabeth, is on its maiden deployment
    UK Carrier Strike Group, led by the HMS Queen Elizabeth, is on its maiden deployment

Speaking onboard the UK Royal Navy's HMS Queen Elizabeth, which is docked in Singapore, the Royal Air Force's Chief of Staff, Air Chief Marshal Sir Mike Wigston said that the UK has plans to increase its presence in the South China Sea and the Indo-Pacific region.

Wigston said there would be a "more regular drumbeat of deployment," adding that it would be manifested "both in what you see from the Royal Navy and the Royal Air Force."

Two Royal Navy warships have also been assigned to the region, after an announcement in July to assign two warships to Asian waters on a permanent basis.

"Our ambition is to take a more persistent presence here than any other country from [Europe]," said Britain's High Commissioner to Singapore, Kara Owen.

AUKUS rising

This announcement comes almost two months after the US, UK, and Australia formed a defense alliance, AUKUS, to boost the latter's nuclear capabilities and "strengthen stability in the Indo-Pacific region." 

At the time, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said that the AUKUS agreement between the three countries poses a danger to regional peace, stability, and international order.

China expressed its grave concern, saying that "this move will escalate regional tensions, provoke an arms race, threaten regional peace and stability, and undermine international efforts to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons."