Defence Secretary Ben Wallace has warned that the West has to do everything it can to avoid a Cold War in Asia. Mr Wallace also claimed that China does not scare the UK, as he insisted that a new aircraft carrier will sail whenever international law allows. He said: “It’s no secret that China shadows and challenges ships transiting international waters on very legitimate routes. “We will respect China and we hope that China respects us . . . we will sail where international law allows.”
Mr Wallace also told The Times that despite the fact that China claims sovereignty over most of the South China Sea, Britain had a “duty” to insist on freedom of navigation when HMS Queen Elizabeth and its fleet sail through on their way to Japan.
HMS Queen Elizabeth will take part in exercises in the Philippines Sea with Australia, France, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea and the United States in August.
Mr Wallace did not comment on China’s 12-mile zone around a new military base built by Beijing.
The base was built on disputed part of the South China Sea, and whenever a US warship or plane passed too close or over the base, Chinese forces broadcasted aggressive messages and warnings.
That’s why British vessels have stuck to undisputed international waters.
Mr Wallace said: “We are committed to working with our partners here to defend democratic values, tackle shared threats and keep our nations safe.”
The news comes after China threatened to nuke Japan “off the face of the earth” if Tokyo intervenes to protect Taiwan.
The East Asian countries have been in conflict over the status of Taiwan.
“What we want to target is Japan’s ability to endure a war. As long as Japan realises it cannot afford to pay the price of war it will not dare to rashly send troops to the Taiwan strait.”
China has followed a ‘No first use’ (NFU) policy on nuclear weapons since 1964 but has now claimed that Japan could be made an exception.
The Chinese navy is now larger than the US fleet albeit it is less advanced.
Britain has less than a tenth its number of combat ships and submarines.
The Defence Secretary has acknowledged the potential for war but rejected the idea that confronting China would accelerate the start of a new Cold War in Asia.