Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth and strike group arrives in Guam after venturing through the South China Sea - without sailing near Chinese islands, Beijing claims

THE Royal Navy’s flagship HMS Queen Elizabeth and her strike group has arrived in Guam after venturing through the South China Sea, with China’s foreign ministry claiming the ships did not sail near Chinese islands.

Friday, 6th August 2021, 2:59 pm
Updated Friday, 6th August 2021, 3:51 pm

Crew onboard the aircraft carrier posted to social media a video of the 65,000-tonne warship arriving in Guam this morning.

Her arrival in the USA island territory comes just two weeks after the flagship and her strike group entered the contested South China Sea.

The waters have been claimed by China’s communist regime, which has been building and fortifying islands in the region over the last seven years, leading to naval experts fearing ‘a high risk’ of incidents as the strike group ventured through the region.

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But Beijing’s foreign ministry claimed that the strike group did not enter within 12 nautical miles of its islands in the region, according to South China Morning Post.

In a statement to the publication, the ministry added: ‘China hopes navy vessels of other nations abide by international law when sailing across the South China Sea, respect the rights and sovereignty of the coastal nations, and avoid actions that damage regional peace.’

Speaking as the strike group approached the contest waters, foreign secretary Dominic Raab told the Commons foreign affairs committee that it was ‘absolutely right’ to exercise and defend free passage from ‘the Ukrainian territorial sea to the South China Sea’.

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HMS Queen Elizabeth pictured with her embarked squadron of British and American F-35 jets.Photo: Royal Navy.

HMS Queen Elizabeth passed through the Strait of Malacca, between Indonesia and Malaysia, at the beginning of last week, with Malaysian frigate KD Lekiu as an escort before meeting up with vessels from Singapore.

Commodore Steve Moorhouse, Commander UK Carrier Strike Group, said: ‘The Royal Navy has huge affection for Singapore based on our history together, but Singapore is also a beacon of enterprise in a region that is growing in strategic importance.

‘The arrival of the Carrier Strike Group in Southeast Asia is a clear sign that the UK is ready to work with friends and partners, new and old, to strengthen the security and freedoms upon which we mutually depend.

‘We are grateful to Singapore for supporting an important logistics stop for RFA Tidespring as the Carrier Strike Group continues our programme at sea.’

HMS Richmond also carried out training with a frigate from Thailand and their S-76B helicopter.

Cdr Hugh Botterill, Commanding Officer of HMS Richmond, said: ‘HMS Richmond’s interaction with Thailand is an important part of the Carrier Strike Group 21 deployment, demonstrating the UK’s commitment to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) co-operation.’

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