The aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth is pictured at anchor on the Solent, following an event commemorating the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings, in Portsmouth, southern England, June 5, 2019. Photo: AFP
Despite an outbreak of COVID-19 on the aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth, the UK reaffirmed on Tuesday that it would sail the aircraft carrier’s task force through the South China Sea in August in a direct challenge to China and announced that it would permanently deploy warships to the region. . But top Chinese military experts said on Wednesday that the move threatened China politically more than militarily and that China was able to dissolve the threat.
During a visit to Tokyo, Japan, British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace on Tuesday confirmed that HMS Queen Elizabeth and her escort fleet would transit “international waters claimed by China” in the South China Sea next month, the Daily Mail reported on Tuesday.
Wallace also announced that the UK plans to deploy Royal Navy warships permanently to the region in support of its allies, according to the report, noting that after crossing the South China Sea in August , the British fleet will participate in exercises in the Philippine Sea with Australia, France, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea and the United States.
There was a recent COVID-19 outbreak on HMS Queen Elizabeth, with more than 100 cases, the BBC reported last week.
Song Zhongping, a Chinese military expert and television commentator, told the Global Times on Wednesday that neither the British aircraft carrier nor its task force has yet reached full combat capability, and its true combat capability is questionable as ‘it can’t even contain a coronavirus outbreak.
British warships face many technical issues that have been exposed on recent missions, and operating away from home will only exacerbate their problems, another Chinese military expert told the Global Times on Wednesday, who asked. to remain anonymous.
The UK should prioritize the security of its troops instead of political demonstrations with the carrier group, the expert said.
By insisting on continuing its South China Sea tour and continuously deploying warships to the region, the UK aims to show its presence in the Asia-Pacific region and participate in a joint fleet in the region led by the United States, Song said.
While warships in themselves pose a threat to China, the political influence of the tour is a greater threat as other Western countries like Australia and Canada could also follow and train this joint fleet. which regularly sails in the South China Sea and East China Sea, with the aim of facing off against China, Song said.
Whether that will happen remains to be seen, but even if it does, China will be able to dissolve the threat, Song predicted.
Under threat from US aircraft carriers and other warships, China has developed numerous anti-ship weapons, including DF-21D and DF-26 anti-ship ballistic missiles which serve as a deterrent to hostile foreign warships. It is also building a strong navy with its own warships and forward aircraft carriers, observers noted.
On Sunday, the Southern Theater Command of the China People’s Liberation Army announced that it had recently held a South China Sea confrontation exercise featuring several types of warplanes, warships, submarines and land missiles.