The Carrier Strike Group led by HMS Queen Elizabeth will head to Asia later this month in a massive show of force aimed at countering the security challenges posed by the Chinese regime.
“One of the things we’ll be doing clearly is showing to our friends in China that we believe in the international law of the sea, and in a confident but not a confrontational way, we will be vindicating that point,” Johnson told broadcasters on board the carrier while visiting the Portsmouth Naval Base on the southern English coast.
“We don’t want to antagonise anybody, but we do think that the United Kingdom plays a very important role, with friends and partners—the Americans, the Dutch, the Australians, the Indians—many, many others, in upholding the rule of law, the international rules-based system on which we all depend.”
During its 28-week deployment, the Carrier Strike Group will visit more than 40 countries and conduct engagements with Singapore, South Korea, Japan, and India as part of the UK’s “tilt towards the Indo-Pacific region, said the MoD.
“This is an opportunity to work with friends and partners around the world,” said Johnson.
He said the Carrier Strike Group will be “projecting not just Britain’s hard power, our military capabilities, which are obviously extraordinary; but also our soft power, our values, what we stand for, our belief in democracy, in the rule of law.”
According to the MoD, the Carrier Strike Group will seek to achieve the UK’s goal for “deeper engagement in the Indo-Pacific region in support of shared prosperity and regional stability,” which was set out in the government’s recently published Integrated Review into foreign, defence, security, and development policy.
The review, which was published in March, said the UK will invest in enhanced “China-facing capabilities” and improve its response to “the systemic challenge that it poses to our security, prosperity and values—and those of our allies and partners.”
Simon Veazey and Reuters contributed to this report.