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US warship enters South China Sea; UK hints at deploying aircraft carrier in region  

US warship, South China Sea

Washington/London: The US has initiated forceful efforts to limit China’s ambition in the South China Sea. On Monday, the US rejected all of China’s South China Sea claims declaring an aggressive policy. Within just 24 hours, the US has begun to comply with the decision by sending its destroyer near the Chinese waters. As the US warship openly challenges China, the UK has hinted at deploying its aircraft carrier in the Pacific.   

US warship, South China SeaThe US destroyer, USS Ralph Johnson, went on a patrol near the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea on Tuesday. The US Navy informed the patrol was part of the freedom of navigation operation. The Navy has even released two photographs of it. Also, the Navy rebuked China and said, ‘The unlawful maritime claims in the South China Sea threaten the freedom of the seas. The US patrol is a challenge to the countries obstructing the freedom and underscores the rights assigned by international law’.   

China has laid claims on the Spratly Islands, which are located in the marine limits of Vietnam, Philippines and Malaysia. Also, the country has taken control of some of its small islands and even deployed its troops on it. Along with these islands, China stakes claim over other islands in the South China Sea as well and has begun massive military deployment. The US and its allies have challenged the Chinese activities aimed at attaining South China Sea dominance. In addition, the US has stepped up its force deployment and patrol of aircraft carriers, advanced destroyers, bombers, fighter jets and drones in the marine region.  

US warship, South China SeaThe USS Ralph Johnson’s patrol is the sixth freedom of navigation operation of the US this year. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has stated that challenging China in the South China Sea with the freedom of navigation operation as well as the presence of its aircraft carriers, was the official US policy. Besides, the US also indicated seeking assistance for it from its allies.   

On the sidelines of the developments, news reports had said even the UK had announced sending its aircraft carrier in the Pacific Ocean. The UK daily ‘The Times’ had reported making the claim based on information from military sources. In the next year, the HMS Queen Elizabeth, which was commissioned in the UK Navy, as well as a fleet of seven warships are to be sent to the Pacific Ocean, a UK military source informed.   

The UK daily asserted that sources believed the deployment was meant to curb the rising threat from China’s activities. Additionally, allies such as Canada and Australia would also be sending their aircraft carriers for the mission, as per sources. The tension between the UK and China has sharply escalated over the Coronavirus and Hong Kong issues. However, analysts believe the deployment of the UK aircraft carrier may drive the ties between the two nations to a boiling point. 

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