The British government is releasing a foreign policy document on Tuesday that will outline London’s plan to expand influence in the Indo-Pacific region to counter China and maintain strong ties with the US.
The new document is part of the UK’s review of its policies after exiting the European Union. As part of its new focus on Asia, the UK is deploying the aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth to the Indian Ocean in May. The carrier is expected to make a passage through the disputed South China Sea, where the US frequently sails warships to challenge Beijing’s claims.
Speaking at the Munich Security Conference in February, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the HMS Queen Elizabeth’s deployment will be coordinated with the US. “On her flight deck will be a squadron of F-35 jets from the US Marine Corps, showing how the British and American armed forces can operate hand-in-glove – or plane-on-flight deck – anywhere in the world,” he said.
The UK is not the only European country looking to cooperate with the US and challenge Beijing in Asia. In February, a French submarine sailed into the South China Sea alongside another French warship. Germany announced that it is sailing a warship to the region this August and said the vessel will steam through the South China Sea on its voyage home.
NATO is also looking to get in on the action in Asia. A report released by the alliance at the end of last year called for an increased focus on China and more cooperation with countries like Japan, Australia, and South Korea.
On Monday, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said the US and Europe must cooperate to challenge Beijing. “If you’re concerned about the rise of China, the military and economic strength of China, that makes it even more important that we stand together, Europe and North America in Nato,” he said.