It is believed that UK, France and Germany would be sending warships to the South China Sea to push back Beijing’s assertiveness in that region. This must be perceived as a united opposition against China’s intimidation in the South China Sea. Jamie Seidel, in an article in news.com.au, an Australia based news site wrote that “With diplomatic efforts meeting a wolf-warrior response, International forums gagged, and trade used as a coercive cudgel, Europe is reacting with growing alarm at China’s aggressiveness.”
Hiroyuki Akita, a Japanese International Security commentator said that “This would set a higher bar for a Chinese decision on military action. The dispatch of warships by the UK, France and Germany to the Indo-Pacific could draw a backlash from China and create new tension. But its positive effects – in terms of deterring Chinese adventurism in the Taiwan Strait and the South China Sea- arguably outweigh its negative ones”.
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. He said, “Our country’s current security situation is largely unstable and uncertain,” Xi told the assembled delegates. Defense Minister General Wei Fenghe added to the drumbeat, declaring China had “entered a high-risk phase”.
News.com.au reported that China officially possesses the world’s largest navy, with some 360 ships in active service. By 2035, Xi wants 40 major combatants afloat. The US Pentagon’s recent Advantage at Sea report has warned that “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. “
Britain has also announced that 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, whereas France has grown a renewed interest in the “Far East” because she possesses territories in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. In addition, she maintains military facilities on Reunion Island, New Caledonia and French Polynesia.
US State Department release reads, “The international community has a vital stake in the preservation of an open maritime order. “We welcome Germany’s support for a rules-based international order in the Indo-Pacific. “