UK deploys two patrol vessels to Indo-Pacific as defence deal struck with US and Australia

China: Expert discusses impact of AUKUS alliance

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It comes as Britain has announced a new defence partnership with the US and Australia. First Sea Lord Admiral Sir Tony Radakin said the UK will station two patrol ships in the Indo-Pacific for “at least the next five years”.

It comes after aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth was deployed on a voyage east earlier this year as the UK focuses on the region.

The First Sea Lord told Nikkei: “They’re smaller ships. We want them to complement the carrier group, which will be in the region for a relatively short period of time.”

The two ships left the UK in early September.

It comes as the UK, US and Australia announced a new defence partnership yesterday.

In a joint cross-continental briefing on Wednesday evening, Prime Minister Boris Johnson, US President Joe Biden and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison confirmed the creation of a “new trilateral defence partnership”.

Mr Johnson said the alliance, known by its acronym Aukus, would work “hand-in-glove to preserve security and stability in the Indo-Pacific”.

China was not mentioned but there was frequent reference to the changing situation in the region.

Speaking from Australia, Mr Morrison said the world was “becoming more complex, particularly in our region, the Indo-Pacific”.

He added that the future of the geopolitical area “will impact all our futures”.

Speaking from the US, Mr Biden said the “future of each of our nations, and indeed the world, depends on a free and open Indo-Pacific enduring and flourishing in the decades ahead”.

The first initiative under Aukus will be for the three allies to work together to secure nuclear-powered submarines for the Royal Australian Navy – a move that will increase Western security capabilities in the Pacific.

In a live broadcast from Downing Street, Mr Johnson said the partnership would make the world safer.

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He said: “I’m delighted to join President Biden and Prime Minister Morrison to announce that the United Kingdom, Australia and the United States are creating a new trilateral defence partnership, known as Aukus, with the aim of working hand-in-glove to preserve security and stability in the Indo-Pacific.

“We are opening a new chapter in our friendship.

“Perhaps most significantly, the UK, Australia and the US will be joined even more closely together, reflecting the measure of trust between us, the depth of our friendship, and the enduring strength of our shared values of freedom and democracy.

“Now the UK will embark on this project alongside our allies, making the world safer and generating jobs across the United Kingdom.”

But China has reacted with fury to the pact between the UK, US and Australia.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said the three countries were “severely damaging regional peace and stability, intensifying an arms race, and damaging international nuclear non-proliferation efforts”.

He told a briefing in Beijing: “China always believes that any regional mechanism should conform to the trend of peace and development of the times and help enhance mutual trust and cooperation… It should not target any third party or undermine its interests.”

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