Daily US Times: This week, the South China Sea has been a hotbed of naval activity this week, with an American surface action group, British Royal Navy’s aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth and forces from the Chinese military all staging exercises in the contested waterway.
HMS Queen Elizabeth has been the center of attention of this hectic military excesrcise, with Chinese diplomats and state-run Chinese media outlets accusing Britain of stirring up trouble in the disputed waters at the behest of the US.
A spokesperson from Britain’s Ministry of Defense said in a statement that the carrier strike group was lawfully navigating the South China Sea, “just as one third of global shipping does on an annual basis.”
The statement added the HMS Queen Elizabeth was taking the most direct route through international waters to conduct exercises with partners and allies in the Philippine Sea.
“As the Defense Secretary said to United Kingdom Parliament back in April, we are not going to go to the other side of the world to be provocative. We will be confident, but not confrontational,” the statement added.
On Friday, a series of photos posted on the US Navy’s website showed US Marine Corps jets involved in operations off the British aircraft carrier, with the dateline of the South China Sea.
The photo captions said: “A free and open Indo-Pacific region that is peaceful and stable is vital to ensuring greater prosperity for the region and the world.”
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