A British naval presence in the South China Sea strengthens global security and Britain’s global role. But it must be matched with a more systematic approach to the region, and to China’s defiance of legal norms.
Worrying reactor test results have prompted the Ministry of Defence to schedule an unexpected reactor replacement for the UK’s oldest nuclear-armed submarine, at a cost of £120 million. If forensic tests exacerbate these concerns, the financial costs of reactor replacement may not be the UK’s only worry.
China has unilaterally established a national fisheries zone in the international waters of the South China Sea, policed by a newly formed Coastguard. At first glance this seems as an attempt to de-militarise disputes in the region, when in fact it frees up the PLA Navy to pursue their blue water ambitions.
British maritime defence industrial manufacturing capabilities saw a historic transition with the Portsmouth naval yard losing out to Glasgow. This is an important milestone, but it is too simplistic to talk glibly about the resulting strategic shrinkage or the demise of British maritime strength.
Since the military junta took power in 1988, Myanmar has expanded its military capabilities by introducing both new and used assets. However, several challenges remain if the junta is to maintain its current capabilities.