Washington’s European allies are following the US into Asia and expanding their military presence in the region as part of the West’s strategy to counter China. On Tuesday, the UK announced in a joint statement with Japan that it plans to permanently deploy two warships to Asia.
The two warships would be deployed after the UK’s new aircraft carrier, the HMS Queen Elizabeth, and its strike group sails to Japan. The Queen Elizabeth is expected to travel through the disputed South China Sea on its way to Japan as a message to Beijing.
The Queen Elizabeth deployed with a massive strike group, the largest British Navy flotilla that has been deployed since the 1982 Falklands War. A US Navy destroyer is part of the strike group, and US warplanes are aboard the aircraft carrier.
When the Queen Elizabeth arrives in Japan, its strike group will separate and go to different ports of call in the country. The British embassy in Japan said the UK warships would not have a permanent base in the country.
Japan hosts over 50,000 US troops, the largest American military presence outside of the US. This makes Japan vital to Washington’s strategy against Beijing, and the US is encouraging Tokyo to step up military cooperation with other countries.