Britain yesterday it would permanently deploy two warships in Asian waters after its Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier and escort ships sail to Japan in September through seas where China is vying for influence with the United States and Japan.
Plans for the high-profile visit by the carrier strike group come as London deepens security ties with Tokyo, which has expressed growing alarm in recent months over China's territorial ambitions in the region, including Taiwan.
"The United Kingdom will permanently assign two ships in the region from later this year," Britain's Defence Minister Ben Wallace said in an announcement in Tokyo with his Japanese counterpart, Nobuo Kishi.
A close US ally, Japan hosts the biggest concentration of US military forces outside the US, including ships, aircraft and thousands of marines.
The Queen Elizabeth is being escorted by two destroyers, two frigates, two support vessels and ships, and will come to Japan through the South China Sea, with stops in India, Singapore and South Korea.