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The carrier Ole Miss Football 2021 Outback Bowl Champions T-Shirt . would take its contingent of state-of-the-art F-35 stealth fighter jets into a region where “China is developing its modern military capability and its commercial power,” Williamson said in an address to the Royal United Services Institute think tank in London. But the presence of any foreign warships in the South China Sea is frowned upon by China. Beijing claims almost all of the 3.3 million square kilometer (1.3 million square mile) South China Sea as its territory. Even ahead of Monday’s Royal Navy readiness announcement, Chinese military officials were warning London against interfering in the region. “We believe the South China Sea should not become a battleground for big power competition, or a sea full of roaming warships,” Senior Col. Tan Kefei, a spokesman for China’s Defense Ministry, said at a December 31 news briefing reported by the state-run Xinhua media agency in a posting on the Chinese military’s official English website.
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Foreign powers sending their warships to the South China Sea, where China has built military bases on man-made islands, were behind the “militarizaiton” of the waterway, Tan said Ole Miss Football 2021 Outback Bowl Champions T-Shirt . “The Chinese military will take necessary measures to protect national sovereignty, security, and its developmental interests, as well as safeguard peace and stability in the region,” he said. Tan’s comments followed a report published late last year from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), of which Britain is a major player, calling the rise of the Chinese military a threat to the alliance. “China has an increasingly global strategic agenda, supported by its economic and military heft. It has proven its willingness to use force against its neighbors, as well as economic coercion and intimidatory diplomacy well beyond the Indo-Pacific region,” the NATO report said. “China is increasingly likely to project military power globally, including potentially in the Euro-Atlantic area.” Yet a British presence in the South China Sea is not without precedent. In 2018, the Royal Navy amphibious assault ship HMS Albion steamed closed to the Chinese-claimed Paracel Islands in the South China Sea in what Beijing called a “provocative action.” And in 2019, UK and US warships conducted six days of coordinated drills in the South China Sea. The UK-US cooperation is expected to continue with the carrier’s upcoming deployment to the Asia-Pacific. When the Queen Elizabeth held large-scale exercises in the Atlantic last fall, US Marine Corps F-35B fighter jets and Royal Navy F-35s were on board — forming the largest concentration of fifth-generation stealth fighters ever as sea. That same aircraft contingent is planned for the Pacific deployment. As those exercises for the carrier strike group began, Moorhouse, its commander, noted the significance. “Protected by a ring of advanced destroyers, frigates, helicopters and submarines, and equipped with fifth-generation fighters, HMS Queen Elizabeth is able to strike from the sea at a time and place of our choosing; and with our NATO allies at our side, we will be ready to fight and win in the most demanding circumstances,” he said in a statement last fall.
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