TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – The U.S. military released a public statement on Jan. 16 declaring that the U.S. Navy and the British Navy successfully completed six days of joint drills in the South China Sea on Wednesday.
The guided-missile destroyer USS McCampbell, which recently conducted a Freedom of Navigation Operation near the Paracel Islands at the start of 2019, and the Royal Navy frigate HMS Argyll were reportedly conducting exercises involving comm drills, and personnel exchanges.
Calling the joint drills a “rare opportunity” U.S. Commander Allison Christy was quoted in the release. “Professional engagement with our British counterparts allows us the opportunity to build upon our existing strong relationships and learn from each other."
The statement said the HMS Argyll had been deployed to the region to promote regional security.
The Chinese government is certain to voice objection to the presence of the foreign navies in the region, with Chinese military officials recently threatening attacks on U.S. naval vessels operating in the South China Sea, which Beijing refers to as its “territorial waters.”
On Jan. 8 it was reported that China had deployed long range DF-26 Ballistic missiles to the the northwestern plateau, which are allegedly capable of striking large and medium sized ships in the South China Sea, reports CNN.
Both the U.S. and the U.K. have indicated that they intend to increase their military presence in the Indo-Pacific, despite objections from China.
The U.K. Defense Minister recently proposed a new British naval base in the region post-Brexit, possibly located in Singapore of Brunei.