Big Lizzie, as she is known, will replace a US carrier on the tour and plans to take around 24 F-35B fighter jets plus helicopters on the deployment. Half of these will be provided by the US Marine corps, signalling an ever closer military partnership between the US and UK. Britain’s biggest warship was originally set to sail through the South China Sea as part of a show of strength to China, but this has not been confirmed by the Ministry of Defence.
Due to the small size of the Royal Navy, it is unlikely Queen Elizabeth or sister ship Prince of Wales will ever deploy without being part of a multinational naval coalition.
However, Minister of Defence, Ben Wallace, has said that the intention going forward is to create a carrier strike group that is a “wholly UK sovereign deployable group”, according to the UK Defence Journal.
The US is seeking to increase its military presence in the South China Sea in a bid to counteract Chinese attempts at hegemony and to assert the right to freedom of navigation in the sea.
The Queen Elizabeth’s participation in the forthcoming naval mission will help reinforce the notion that the UK supports US foreign policy.
The South China sea is a major shipping route for global commerce, and is visited by one-third of the world’s shipping traffic.
It is also rich in fish and potential energy resources, creating an ever more vicious competition for its resources among neighbouring regional nations
Experts believe that there are up to 11 billion barrels worth of oil under the South China Sea along with 190 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.
Resource hungry Beijing has aggressively sought to assert its sovereignty over these hydrocarbon deposits.
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As part of that attempt, the People’s Republic says that the entire waterway up to the coasts of the Philippines, Malaysia and Taiwan belongs to it, a claim rejected by an international court of arbitration in 2016.
This has led to escalating tensions in the region, which are threatening to boil over into armed conflict.
In the latest sign of rising tensions, Vietnam has issued another devastating attack on Beijing.
With anger growing over China’s territorial claims on its waters, Hanoi has ordered a vehicle importer to remove China’s nine-dash line from its navigation system.
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The nine-dash line refers to the demarcation line used by China to stake its territorial claims in the South China sea.
The country’s automobile registrar told an importer based in northern Vietnam to take the app out of Chinese-made cars which are distributed in the country.
In another anti-China move, Vietnam had also announced the ban of a recent film.
The DreamWorks film, Abominable was pulled from cinemas due to its depiction of China’s nine-dash line on a map.
In one scene, a map illustrates the policy which pushed Vietnamese officials into removing it.
President Nguyen Phu Trong of Vietnam has vigorously insisted that his country will defend its territory from Chinese encroachment at all costs.
He said: “We will resolutely and persistently maintain independence while fighting for the protection of our sovereignty, but we must maintain a peaceful environment for development.
“What belongs to our independence and national sovereignty, we will never give up.
“We are determined to fight and win.”
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