Chinese Navy Hold South China Sea Drills Amid Arrival of UK Carrier Strike Group

Both the US and China have accused the other of “destabilizing” the South China Sea with their military drills, but one nation has an extensive shoreline on the waterway and the other doesn’t own a spot of territory within thousands of miles of it. Now the UK seems eager to assert its relevance and insert itself into the complex situation, too.

The Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) is holding military drills in the South China Sea this week in anticipation of the arrival of the British aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth and its task force.

The report didn’t name any Chinese warships taking part, but according to satellite imagery obtained from the European Space Agency last week, the PLAN aircraft carrier Shandong was in the South China Sea at that time, and the amphibious assault ship Hainan was as well, earlier this month.

The Global Times noted that the drills likely weren’t specifically timed to coincide with the arrival of the HMS Queen Elizabeth, which called to port in Singapore on Monday, but the paper noted that the drills demonstrate the readiness of PLAN forces, which have seen a pronounced uptick in activity by the US and its allies in the waters all around China, but specifically in the South China Sea, in recent months and years.

Last month, UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab told the foreign affairs committee in the House of Commons that “it’s absolutely right we exercise and defend the rights, and we do so from the Ukrainian…

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