Britain Termed As Second Grade Naval Power By China
A few days back, Navies of UK and Japan held a joint naval drill in the Pacific Ocean south of Okinawa Island. This was reported by Japan’s Defense Ministry to Tokyo-based Kyoto News. In addition, this naval drill also involved participation of Ships from the US Navy and the Dutch Navy.
To show it’s flag in The Indo Pacific, Britain’s HMS Queen Elizabeth has been sailing in the Asia-Pacific region for some time in the name of Freedom of Passage. Now it has now participated in navy drills with one of the leading regional Power Japan.
This idea of these naval drills are to forge close cooperation among the US’ strategic Partners in the Indo-Pacific. Washington is trying to rebuild a strong new alliance system led by the US, with its allies such as Japan and the UK. In this context, while sailing into the Indo Pacific, the UK’ warships have hold joint military exercises with Japan and the US.
During the drills, the UK demonstrated various attributes of it’s latest aircraft carrier and shared it with the Japanese Navy. This experience will of use to Japan as it intends to modify its Izumo helicopter destroyer to operate F-35B fighters, the same as UK’s HMS Queen Elizabeth has. Japan may soon obtain and deploy the F-35B on its modified helicopter Carrier. So such experiences will come handy for their subsequent joint military deployments.
As per Western media articles given out last month, one of the missions of HMS Queen Elizabeth maiden deployments in the Asia-Pacific region was to project power and demonstrate its naval strength to China. In July, the UK had announced that it would permanently deploy two warships – HMS Spey and HMS Tamar – in Asia. Both ships are actually only offshore patrol vessels without even a missile. This means that they will most likely patrol in Asian waters. Therefore, the deployment of these two ships can only maintain the UK’s presence in Asia. The UK simply doesn’t have the ability to intervene in regional hot spot issues and many regional navies have a much stronger presence. Actually this deployment is in response to the US proposed Indo-Pacific Strategy. USA has also placed its hopes on NATO members to deploy their naval forces in the Indo Pacific.
The Chinese have taken note of thus kind of foray made by the British Navy. As per Chinese analysts, Britain’s maritime power is much weaker than China’s. The Chinese media has dubbed this attempt of of UK’s to Project power by sending an aircraft carrier strike group as mere gimmick. As per them it just completely beyond the ability of UK to fight China, especially in the Indo Pacific.
The UK used to be the foremost naval power in Europe. During the colonial period, British warships effectively dominated and deterred its colonies and semi-colonies. But things are different now as per the Chinese. Currently, the UK’s navy clout can only be classified as a second-tier Navy whereas China has a first tier Navy.Thus it is just futile for the British to flex its muscle and that to China considers its backwaters.
Chinese think that as a country that has a “special relationship” with the US, the UK definitely wants to help it out. However, it doesn’t have enough strength to do so. Thus, it decided to send two patrol ships without strong combat capabilities to Asia to make up the number. Overall, the symbolic significance of the decision outweighs its practical importance.
Regardless of showing off its presence in Asia, the Chinese are sure that UK will not effectively and significantly affect regional affairs. Some Southeast Asian countries may have some defense cooperation with the UK. But London is not capable of influencing their domestic and foreign affairs, as well as their military strategies. Even if the UK from time to time sends warships or carrier strike groups to Asian waters, those activities are only short-term. They have very limited influence on the regional situation, if any whatsoever.
The US hopes that Britain can set an example for other NATO members in cooperating with the US’ strategy in Asia, such as making some practices directing at China. In order to realize the goals in its Indo-Pacific Strategy, it cannot rule out a scenario where Washington will ask its other European allies, such as Germany and France, to do what the UK’s Royal Navy is doing in Asia now.
The UK is showing its national influence mainly by following the steps of the US. It rarely takes military actions and strategic moves independently. In the Asia-Pacific region, London cooperates with Washington to conduct certain patrols or military exercises. In Afghanistan, it withdrew its soldiers when the US pulled out its forces. As a result, when the US failed in Afghanistan, the UK encountered the same shameful result. At the moment, the UK is facing a big challenge to withdraw its troops from Afghanistan by the deadline of August 31.
Thus the Chinese have labeled Washington as a “global policeman,” and London has been labeled an “auxiliary policeman.”