Washington’s European allies are looking to increase their military presence in Asia as the US puts more focus on the region. German officials announced that Berlin is sailing a warship to Asia in August, and on its return journey, the vessel will transit through the disputed South China Sea.
The transit would mark the first time since 2002 that a German warship sailed through the South China Sea. The US is happy with the news and welcomed what it called “Germany’s support for a rules-based international order in the Indo-Pacific.”
The US frequently sails warships near Chinese-claimed islands in the South China Sea, something that has continued in the early days of the Biden administration. US aircraft carriers have entered the disputed waters in recent weeks, escalating tensions even more.
The UK is also planning a naval voyage in the region. London announced on Saturday that the aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth will travel to East Asia on its maiden voyage, and the ship is expected to transit the South China Sea. In February, a French submarine sailed into the South China Sea alongside another French Navy ship.
At the end of last year, NATO released a report calling for the alliance to put more focus on Asia and countering China. The report said NATO should work with “like-minded” partners in the region like South Korea, Japan, and Australia.