Japanese ships JS Kashima and JS Shimayuki during joint exercises with the US in the South China Sea in June 2020.  Photo: US Navy.

Anglo-Japanese broadcast a message to China in the South China Sea


The joint statement by the Anglo-Japanese ministers signaled that they would not accept Chinese adventurism in the South China Sea and would increase their presence in the region.

Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi, Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi and his two British counterparts, Dominic Raab and Ben Wallace, issued a joint statement on February 3 expressing deep concerns about the South China Sea situation, opposing unilateral behavior. change the status quo. They affirmed the importance of maintaining the freedom of navigation and overflight in the South China Sea, and called on the parties to refrain from activities that could increase tensions.

Japanese warships JS Kashima and JS Shimayuki during joint exercises with the US in the South China Sea in June 2020. Image: US Navy.

“This is a clear message to our allies as well as China that Japan-UK will cooperate more closely in the post-Brexit period. Both Japan and Britain are allies of the US,” said Carl Thayer, professor emeritus. at the University of New South Wales in Australia, told VnExpress.

Greg Poling, director of the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in the US, said the joint statement was built on other recent signals, including functions submitted by the UK and Japan regarding China’s South China Sea claim. The two countries have also recently increased their presence in the South China Sea.

In September 2020, the three countries of Britain, France and Germany also sent a joint note to the United Nations, rejecting China’s irrational claims in the South China Sea. The three countries emphasized the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) as the “legal framework” for all activities at sea and should be maintained with integrity.

On January 19, Japan sent a note to the United Nations, declaring that it was against international law for China to unilaterally draw the baseline for the entity in the South China Sea. China’s claim to sovereignty over much of the South China Sea was rejected in the 2016 Permanent Court of Arbitration ruling.

Vice Admiral Yoji Koda, former commander of the Japan Self-Defense Forces’s Self-Defense Fleet, said Tokyo holds a neutral stance on territorial disputes in the South China Sea. However, Japan does not accept China’s unilateral claims and drastic actions in the South China Sea.

Japan recently dispatched the destroyer to the South China Sea or across the area to reach the Middle East for anti-piracy and intelligence-gathering missions. The Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) has visited ports in several South China Sea coastal countries, including Vietnam. Visiting JMSDF units often conduct goodwill and friendly naval exercises with host countries. Although the scale of these exercises is quite small, the frequency of these exercises is about 10 times a year.

In addition, JMSDF sent a floating ship unit (2-3 destroyers) to the South China Sea and Indian Ocean to conduct international exercises with navies of several countries in the region, including rehearsal with the US. Mr. Yoji said that the move shows countries in the region, including China, clearly see the strength of the US-Japan alliance.

“Japan believes that the JMSDF’s series of deployments in the South China Sea is a strong and clear signal to China, to express Tokyo’s stance and determination not to accept Beijing’s adventurism in China. South China Sea, “said Mr. Yoji.

The Japanese deputy admiral also pointed out that Britain has been an “out of place” Asian country since withdrawing its troops east of the Suez Canal in 1971 and handing Hong Kong over to China in 1997. The British then maintained only the image. enjoy politics and diplomacy in the region. Still, London’s non-military contribution, especially some of Britain’s actions at the United Nations, should not be underestimated.

However, Mr. Yoji said that Britain’s military contribution to many security crises has been limited since Britain’s withdrawal from the region. This trend increased during the Anglo-Chinese economic “honeymoon” under Prime Minister David Cameron around 2015. During that period, Anglo-China relations peaked and this is clearly shown. when Chinese President Xi Jinping was solemnly received during his first visit to Britain in 2015.

However, the recent drastic moves by China have changed London’s view of Beijing. Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s cabinet is taking a stance on China much tougher and more clearly than before.

Thayer commented that after Brexit, the Johnson administration wanted the UK to play a global role, prioritizing the Indo-Pacific region because of its trade importance and other economic linkages. Therefore, the UK has an important interest in keeping maritime routes through the South China Sea free and open.

He has expressed interest in joining the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) as well as the Quad-Party Security Dialogue Forum (Quad) with the US, Japan, India and Australia.

According to Thayer, British warships will likely visit the area more frequently and practice with friendly coastal states. In 2019, the Australian Defense Minister welcomed partners with military capabilities such as the UK to deploy more forces to the region.

In recent years, the British Navy has sent large warships through the South China Sea to demonstrate London’s commitment to freedom of navigation. He has repeatedly suggested that they will send the aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth to the South China Sea.

“Britain will emphasize its national interests by sending the aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth, the largest and most powerful warship in service, to the Indian Ocean and the South China Sea. Maybe ships of the Indian navy, France, Australia and the US will join it in the cruise and rehearsal with this ship, “Thayer said.

“The recent statement between Japan and the UK builds on the new stance of the British government and clarifies the two countries’ views towards China,” said Mr. Yoji. “They send out a clear signal that neither Japan nor the UK will accept unilateral, self-righteous actions, intimidating other countries in China’s region. Chinese adventure in the region “.

“I hope the UK-Japan will continue to seek ways to increase the pressure on China, in coordination with other like-minded countries, that will include moderate force deployment activities in the South China Sea. “Polling said.

Phuong Vu

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