Only recently, TFI had reported that France, Japan and the U.S. will be conducting military drills early next year in the East China Sea, in a bid to take on an increasingly belligerent China in the region. Now, in what comes as a move which will fruitlessly infuriate Beijing, the United Kingdom (UK) is all set to deploy an aircraft carrier strike group to the East China Sea around the same time when France sends its own fleet to the region for military drills. Effectively, three UNSC permanent members are ganging up against their colleague – China in the East China Sea. And with Russian military buildup in its far east aimed at China, one can clearly see all other members of the UN Security Council challenging China right in its backyard.
The British naval strike group, including the aircraft carrier Queen Elizabeth too, is expected to conduct joint exercises with the U.S. military and Japan’s Self-Defense Forces during its stay in areas including off the Nansei Islands chain in South-Western Japan. The said aircraft carrier, commissioned in 2017, is “the largest and most powerful vessel ever constructed” for the British navy, weighing 65,000 tons and measuring 280 meters in length. As such, the move aimed at China will hardly be given a miss by Beijing.
According to Reuters, during the dispatch, the British navy also plans to conduct maintenance on carrier-based F-35B stealth fighter jets at Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd.’s aerospace systems works in Aichi Prefecture, Central Japan. The move by the UK to deploy an aircraft carrier strike group against China in the East China Sea comes amid heightened differences between the two countries, particularly over the brutal imposition of the draconian National Security Law in Hong Kong.
Amid heightened tensions with countries across the world, China has been acting out of its head both in the East and South China Seas. While the South China Sea already has a considerable global navy presence, for three UNSC members to now come together against China right in its backyard will send shivers down the CCP leadership, particularly Xi Jinping, under whose repressive rule China’s expansionist ambitions have only grown from strength to strength.
The East China Sea is the region in which China has been acting aggressively for quite some time now. It is here that Beijing is embroiled in territorial disputes with Japan, and it is here that Taiwan also lies. Additionally, the Japanese Senkaku Islands, which China claims and calls Diaoyu, are also located here. As such, while China has embroiled itself in multiple conflicts in the region, it now finds itself isolated in the face of a massive U.S.-Japan-UK-France quadrilateral taking shape.
Senkaku Islands particularly, are the subject matter of rising Sino-Japanese tensions. The Chinese vessels have been hovering around these Japanese islands, and Tokyo has repeatedly objected to such Chinese incursions violating their country’s maritime sovereignty. Failing to stop its navy from violating Japan’s territorial sovereignty, Tokyo has effectively built a massive US-UK-France military support system for itself in the region. Needless to say, a belligerent China cannot even dream to take on such a supreme military alliance.
In more ways than one, China being cornered in the East China Sea itself will have a massive ripple effect throughout the Indo-Pacific, more so in the South China Sea. The ASEAN members will be comforted to know that if three UNSC giants can gang up against Beijing right under its nose in the East China Sea, for them to kick the PLA Navy out of the South China Sea and trash Beijing’s historically clumsy “nine-dash line” claim in the South China Sea would not be a particularly massive task. China is losing its game in the Indo-Pacific on a daily basis. Essentially, the free world powers are opening multiple fronts against Beijing in the Indo-Pacific. China cannot engage on such fronts with its flimsy navy simultaneously. While UK, U.S., France and Japan kick China in the East China Sea, India might very well do its part in the Indian Ocean, by blocking supplies to the paper dragon through the Strait of Malacca.