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SYDNEY/LONDON — After its recent arrival in the Philippine Sea, the U.K.’s largest aircraft carrier and its strike group are set to join the U.S., Japan, Australia and New Zealand, along with fellow European power France, in exercises close to the South China Sea.
“It’s rare for a British aircraft carrier to participate” in such events, a source in Japan’s Defense Ministry said, highlighting the importance of the drills.
The foray by the HMS Queen Elizabeth is part of a trend this year of major European countries sending naval firepower to the Indo-Pacific in a show of support for Washington’s efforts to curb Beijing’s militarization of the South China Sea.
The U.K. and France have joined the U.S. and Japan in contending that Chinese claims and activities in the South China Sea violate the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, and the Philippine Sea exercises tie in to this.
“As we witness a tilt in power towards the Indo-Pacific region, we are committed to working with our partners here to defend democratic values, tackle shared threats and keep our nations safe,” British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said in a July news release.
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