British fighters to overfly South China Sea; carriers in Pacific after 2020: envoy


A British Royal Air Force Typhoon aircraft in flight during a mission over central Iraq September 21, 2016. REUTERS/Petros Karadjias

A British Royal Air Force Typhoon aircraft in flight during a mission over central Iraq September 21, 2016. REUTERS/Petros Karadjias

By David Brunnstrom | WASHINGTON Fri Dec 2, 2016 | 11:45am EST

British fighter planes visiting Japan will fly over the South China Sea and Britain will sail aircraft carriers in the Pacific once they are operational in 2020, given concerns about freedom of navigation there, Britain’s ambassador to the United States said on Thursday.

The envoy, Kim Darroch, told a Washington think tank that British Typhoon aircraft currently deployed on a visit to Japan would fly across disputed parts of the South China Sea to assert international overflight rights, but gave no time frame.

Speaking at an event also attended by Japan’s ambassador to Washington, Darroch said that most future British defense capacity would have to be directed toward the Middle East, but added:

“Certainly, as we bring our two new aircraft carriers on stream in 2020, and as we renew and update our defense forces, they will be seen in the Pacific.

“And we absolutely share the objective of this U.S. administration, and the next one, to protect freedom of navigation and to keep sea routes and air routes open.”

In spite of Britain’s preoccupations in the Middle East, “we will try to play our part” in the Pacific, he said.

Four British fighter planes arrived in Japan in October to take part in exercises with Japanese forces at a time of rising tensions over China’s pursuit of disputed territory in East Asia, including the South and East China Seas.

In Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said all countries had freedom of navigation and overflight in the South China Sea, in accordance with international law, and there was no dispute about that.

“We hope the relevant party can earnestly respect regional countries’ efforts to safeguard peace and stability in the South China Sea,” he told a daily news briefing.

A commentary on the official Chinese news agency Xinhua took a stronger tone, saying UK-China ties could be hurt.

“Such remarks create the impression that London may soon deviate from a largely aloof attitude over the South China Sea issue and start playing a meddling role there like the United States and Japan,” it said.

“Should a British warplane embark on a so-called “freedom of navigation” mission in the South China Sea, it would only serve to further complicate the issue and weigh on thriving China-Britain ties.”

Japan’s ambassador, Kenichiro Sasae, said the United States, Japan and Britain discussed greater naval cooperation at a meeting at the Pentagon in October and Tokyo welcomed greater British involvement in Asian security.

Darroch said British Prime Minister Theresa May and U.S. President-elect Donald Trump discussed the importance of all NATO members meeting their defense spending commitments in a telephone call this week, their second since Trump’s Nov. 8 election.

Darroch said all NATO states had committed to spending at least 2 percent of GDP on defense, yet only five, including the United States and Britain, were doing so.

“I think the criticism … during this election campaign that a number of NATO countries aren’t doing everything they can … is entirely fair and we will see how the incoming administration wants to take that forward,” he said.

Trump has criticized European NATO members for not meeting their spending commitments and has also called on U.S. Asian allies Japan and South Korea to pay more for their defense or risk the alliances.

Trump has said he plans to build up the U.S. military, and advisers have said he will pursue a policy of “peace through strength” in the Pacific in the face of China’s growing assertiveness.

The advisers say Trump can also be expected to take a more “robust” approach to naval operations to assert navigation rights in the South China Sea, a vital global trade route.

(Additional reporting by Michael Martina in Beijing; Editing by Jonathan Oatis and Clarence Fernandez)

Source: Reuters “British fighters to overfly South China Sea; carriers in Pacific after 2020: envoy”

Note: This is Reuters report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.


10 Comments on “British fighters to overfly South China Sea; carriers in Pacific after 2020: envoy”

  1. EASTERN LOOKING GLASS says:

    POWER PROJECTION STUNTS

    More scaremongering by Reuters and Obama’s Amerika, Japan, and a “not so great anymore” Britain.

    Reuters sensationalize and hype the report just to show how powerful the current and former White colonialists and Japan are; A “Wizard of Oz” show; Dwarves and monkeys standing on each other’s shoulders wearing a long trench-coat to look 10-feet tall.

    After what David Cameron said regarding UK’s new policy about seeking as many friends and economic partners as possible, this kind of propaganda is nauseating. Just like Amerika which has so many American factories in China making tons of profits from their sales back to Amerika and the rest of the world BUT bad mouthing China at the same time and using their military might to threaten and bully China.

    Such kind of behaviours are NOT acceptable and WILL come to an end soon. Verily, Mr Xi and 1.4 billion Chinese MUST be feeling hot under their collar with this kind of continuous insulting and rude behaviour. It can not but create a maelstorm of nationalism to kick the Amerikans and other would-be-colonialist -mentality countries and vassals out of China and her surrounding waters.

    Recall how the British, French, Germans and Amerikan gasped and shreik almost hysterically, choked for words, when a Chinese warship entered the Mediteranean sea for the first time (apart from Admiral Cheng Ho’s epeditionary naval force in the early 1400s) en route to Libya to help evacuate Chinese nationals there. If this is how the Western press plays it, then it IS highly recommended that China send its aircraft carrier groups or other warships to visit countries in the Mediteranean such as Egypt, Algeria, Morocco, and maybe Greece, Syria, and Russia, on a regular basis if these warmongering neocons in UK and France continue their Obama-Hillary-bought-trouble-seeking ways. Let them be speechless in their fear.

    Oh, don’t forget to “Man-Up” British or French warships and warplanes passing through the waters off China. They think they were so manly escorting the Russian aircraft carrier groups on the way to Syria, Beijing and Russia should seriously consider doing the same to these british and especially Amerikans. Aferall, this is China/Russia’s turf. We can “Man-UP’ anytime we want. You want to e unfriendly, we CAN be unfriendly too.

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  2. Jane says:

    France has only one aircraft carrier. It is nuclear powered, so it doesn’t guzzle fuel. It operates the proven Rafale fighter. It stays in the Mediterranean most of the time so that it can remain close to its home port and put in for repairs.

    The British economy is about the same size as the French economy. They want to operate two aircraft carriers that are each 50% larger than the French carrier. They will spend a fortune to buy fuel to operate the ships. The F-35 program is in great difficulty.

    These are the ships the British want to send into the South China Sea? What next? Argentina sending its navy into the Arctic Ocean?

    The aircraft carriers are going to eat the Royal Navy. They are so expensive that several other ships have already been decommissioned to save money. Every remaining ship will have to perform escort duty for the carriers. They will lose all ability to perform other missions.

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  3. Simon says:

    Britain military particularly its navy is so weak it cannot even protect itself. In a recent report Britain’s military is under staffed and lacking in hardware, they are actually now weaker than they were at anytime and shadow of the force that fought over the Falklands in 1982. It could do nothing about the Russian carrier group sailing through the English Channel.

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    • Steve says:

      True, but it is the overall alliance with US and NATO. Each of the NATO countries are weak, but a combined alliance of 28 countries can be very powerful. Even the US alone cannot do much in the SCS without allied support.

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      • Simon says:

        America is more powerful than the rest of NATO combined. NATO has enough problem with a resurgence Russia. Even if America wan to confront China the rets of NAO are not that keen to because of business ties. Atlas Britain does not represent NATO. It is just Japan pleasing business which really count for nothing. Japan like Vietnam are just pawns of major powers.

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        • Steve says:

          Japan needs US to contain China over the ECS. Vietnam is confused and out of the equation.
          Russian and Chinese de facto alliance is the most important factor against US and Western power alliances in the Middle East and SCS.

          True, the Baltic states are no match for Russia. I don’t think NATO will get involved in SCS because it will draw in Russia as a de facto alliance with China, but we are referencing individual countries like UK to share the same objectives of the US administration. These individual countries include Australia, Japan (maybe France and Sth Korea) combined.

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  4. Steve says:

    I believe this is the original plan hatched by Pentagon and its quadruplets – (US), Britain, Australia, Philippines and Japan when it comes to the SCS. Singapore is the de facto alliance. The US has very powerful chain of military bases surrounding China (approx 30+). At this stage, China can only strengthened its A2/AD. In times of serious confrontational war, China’s surface warships do not have the capacity to get close to US shores, other than nuclear submarines. The UK, Australia will always be part of the US military alliance. Not to be surprised, France could be following the same pursuit as UK. The French warships was in Philippines just a few months ago.

    The only differences are Philippines pulling away from the US military alliance and Malaysia pivoting towards China.

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  5. Joseph says:

    2020? Yeah, right. We shall see what’s left of the British navy in 2020. Three years is a long time trekking to path of ruin. It appears that Reuters has lost most of its credibility writing lies about foreign countries ‘fighting’ China. So it writer something closer to home that British own politicians can be coerced to vouch its dodgy ‘reporting’ or rather, fiction writing. But obviously British own politicians also play safe to stay away from anti-Chinese comments. After all, with Brexit looming, in 2020 what’s left of the British once world class navy may be only the ‘super’ life boats for its new ‘super’ aircraft carrier. It obviously reminiscent the era when the British built the expensive but useless dreadnoughts in the 1900s, only to be superseded by new cheaply designed battleships and battle cruisers, and to built the expensive and useless battleships in the 1930s, only to be superseded by the new cheaply designed aircraft carriers. All in all the British navy has never had much of its luck to expand on their own. They may as well go back to what they do well, do the pirating and privateering like what their pirate admiral Drake did best, or raiding and stealing French ships like what admiral Nelson did in Trafalgar. Or even nabbing Chinese unmaintained warships like they did in 1840s Opium War or nabbing German warships on the WW1. Many people didn’t realize that the British navy got mighty not by building ‘indigenous’ British ships, but by nabbing French armada in Trafalgar and Chinese armada in Fuzhou. In the case of Chinese ships, they simply replaced the distinctly Chinese sails with their own design in India. Many Chinese Opium War veterans would recognize their own old warships with British masts on Singapore ports. Even in the aftermath of the WW1, the British tried to nab Imperial German warships, but the German crews decided to scuttle them than gave the to the British thief. And Hitler would build a new formidable navy in only under ten years, to the British amazement. After a century nothing changes. The British still cannot build up navy on their own. Their own indigenous aircraft carrier fares no better that their former subject India’s indigenous aircraft carrier. I wonder which navy they are trying to raid now. US navy? That would be ironic.

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