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Europe signals opposition against China's intimidation in South China Sea

In a united opposition against China's intimidation in the South China Sea, the UK, France and Germany are sending warships to the South China Sea to pushback Beijing's assertiveness in the region

Europe | China | South China Sea


china, flag
Chinese flag

In a united opposition against China's intimidation in the South Sea, the UK, and are sending warships to the Sea to pushback Beijing's assertiveness in the region.

Jamie Seidel, in an article in - Australia based news site - wrote that "With diplomatic efforts meeting a wolf-warrior response, forums gagged, and trade used as a coercive cudgel, is reacting with growing alarm at China's aggressiveness."

"The dispatch of warships by the UK, and to the Indo-Pacific could draw a backlash from and create new tension. But its positive effects - in terms of deterring Chinese adventurism in the Taiwan Strait and the - arguably outweigh its negative ones," wrote Hiroyuki Akita, a Japanese security commentator. "This would set a higher bar for a Chinese decision on military action."

The move to deploy warships in the came after Beijing's motives for building the world's largest navy.

At this week's Two Sessions, National Assembly of the Chinese Communist Party, Chairman Xi Jinping reasserted his desire to build a world-beating fleet.

"Our country's current security situation is largely unstable and uncertain," Xi told the assembled delegates. Defence Minister General Wei Fenghe added to the drumbeat, declaring China had "entered a high-risk phase".

China officially possesses the world's largest navy, with some 360 ships in active service. By 2035, Xi wants 40 major combatants afloat, reported

"Already commanding the world's largest naval force, the People's Republic of China is building modern surface combatants, submarines, aircraft carriers, fighter jets, amphibious assault ships, ballistic nuclear missile submarines, large coast guard cutters, and polar icebreakers at an alarming speed," warns the US Pentagon's recent Advantage at Sea report.

In December last year, NATO for the first time issued a report putting China on an equal threat footing as Russia.

has led the way since in signalling its renewed interest in the "Far East" as it has territories in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It maintains military facilities on Reunion Island, New Caledonia and French Polynesia.

Britain has announced its new aircraft carrier Queen Elizabeth will spearhead a multinational task force in its first active deployment later this year. This small fleet is expected to conduct exercises in the South China Sea.

Also, the United States has publicly praised Germany's decision to send a frigate through the South China Sea to Japan in August. "We welcome Germany's support for a rules-based order in the Indo-Pacific," a US State Department release reads. "The international community has a vital stake in the preservation of an open maritime order."

A handful of warships will, on their own, appear insignificant to Beijing. But, the UK, France, and The Netherlands are signalling their willingness to at least show their flags in opposition to China's regional intimidation, wrote Seidel.

Moreover, the European countries' ships are modern, capable and designed to operate seamlessly with the US and their crews regularly train with each other around the globe.

This makes them ideal for providing moral and physical support for the evolving Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quad) between India, Japan, Australia and the United States, wrote Seidel.

Meanwhile, Beijing finds itself increasingly friendless - mainly because of its own 'wolf warrior' diplomacy and military intimidation.

Now it must consider the cost of broad international fallout if it were to make any aggressive move.

"If China takes military action in the Indo-Pacific involving the US, for instance in the Taiwan Strait, is unlikely just to watch and do nothing," Dr Nicolas Regaud of France's Institute for Strategic Research told The Nikkei.

(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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First Published: Fri, March 19 2021. 12:48 IST