London, May 25 (Jiji Press)–Britain’s deployment of the aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth to the Indo-Pacific region is an opportunity to signal the country’s presence as a “global power,” a specialist in East Asian security has said.
“In the post-Brexit context and with the emergence of the global Britain narrative, deployment to the Indo-Pacific…acquired…a very important significance,” Alessio Patalano of King’s College London said in a recent interview.
The maiden operational deployment of the carrier strike group led by the HMS Queen Elizabeth is “an opportunity to make a statement about how (Britain) sees itself as a global power,” Patalano also said.
Noting that heightened tensions between the United States and China have become “the defining structural features” of international relations, he said that “it is important and almost natural” for the carrier to be deployed to the region.
Patalano said that the deployment is not merely symbolic but “operationally significant” because interactions with other countries will be “substantive.”
Britain is “not just interested in having a presence in the Indo-Pacific,” he said. “It is looking to engage in the Indo-Pacific, friends and foes alike, across the variety of activities, to shape the environment and prevent stability from deteriorating.”
Britain and Japan “see in each other the closest partners in their relative regions,” he observed, adding that the HMS Queen Elizabeth’s planned port call in Japan and joint exercise with the Self-Defense Forces will be “an important opportunity to start building up greater integration and ability to work interchangeably with each other.”
Patalano said that reactions from China, which has called the deployment “an act of vanity” and has criticized the move through its usual propaganda, have been all within expectations.
He suggested that the East Asian superpower may not see the dispatch as a particularly antagonizing act as Britain is not alone in sending a carrier strike group to the region.
“The Chinese will take notice, will try to watch carefully, if not try to interfere with the U.K. deployment, but again, that is to be expected,” he maintained.
“(Britain’s) focus is not so much about sending a negative message to China, other than one concerned about the maintaining of the maritime stability in international order,” Patalano added.
Britain in March announced a plan to boost its involvement in the Indo-Pacific region in the country’s “Integrated Review,” which lays out its security and diplomatic policies.
The carrier strike group left its home port in Portsmouth on Saturday for a seven-month mission. The fleet is scheduled to pass through the Mediterranean Sea and the Indian Ocean, making stops at Singapore and India.