By Chang Feng-lin å¼µè±éº
Beijing’s imposition of the Hong Kong National Security Act and a number of other democracy and human rights issues continue to strain UK-China relations . The tense situation has dramatically reduced the likelihood that British Royal Navy ships could continue to dock in Hong Kong harbor for refueling – a not entirely unpredictable development.
In an online speech to Parliament on November 19, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that the aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth would lead a British and allied task force next year in the Mediterranean, Indian Ocean and in East Asia.
Johnson also said the task group could participate in joint exercises with US and Japanese forces, as well as freedom of navigation operations.
The unstated intention is clearly to challenge China’s excessive claims of sovereignty in the region. Observers also believe the deployment is intended to send a message to Beijing following the growing political crackdown on Hong Kong and the imposition of new national security legislation.
The British government regards these actions as violations of the Sino-British Joint Declaration which entered into force in 1997 and includes guarantees that Hong Kong’s independent political and economic system would remain unchanged for 50 years.
Many British politicians have criticized Beijing’s actions, and the British government has said it will pave the way for British citizenship for the nearly 3 million Hong Kong people eligible to apply for a British overseas national passport.
According to Japanese website Nikkei Asia, the UK government’s decision to send a task force of a carrier group to East Asia could be intended to send a powerful message to Beijing about the aforementioned issues.
HMS Queen Elizabeth is the Royal Navy’s largest warship and has the capacity to carry 40 planes, and its hydraulic elevators can send four planes from the hangars to the cockpit in one minute.
During a standard deployment, the aircraft carrier sets sail with a squadron of 14 F-35B stealth fighters and eight helicopters.
The Taiwan-administered Pratas Islands (Dongsha Islands, æ± æ² ç¾¤å³¶) are perfectly positioned as a midway stopping point for the British transport group as it sails in the South China Sea before making a stopover in Japan, and he could provide the working group with provisions and water. It would also be a significant diplomatic breakthrough for Taiwan.
The adoption by the United States Senate of the National Defense Authorization Act constitutes the basis of the reciprocal stopovers of American and Taiwanese navy ships. The act demonstrates the continued geostrategic value Washington places on Taiwan, due to its central location in the First Island Chain.
The United States wants to conduct freedom of navigation operations in the South China Sea from its bases in Japan, but whatever base it departs from will have to sail thousands of miles.
Although military ships can operate without interruption, a supply port along the route would be required to replenish the food and water supply for the crews.
If new exchanges were initiated on the basis of humanitarian aid, perhaps even allowing the British aircraft carrier to stop at Kaohsiung, China could do nothing about it.
Taiwan could really take advantage of the situation by adopting a more flexible international strategy. Any US warship calling at a Taiwanese port would elicit a strong reaction from China, but it has never objected to visits by British ships.
I had hoped that the visit of the President of the Czech Senate Milos Vystrcil would provoke a political reaction allowing the government to initiate new exchanges with European countries.
After all, as Vystrcil said: “Please remember that freedom, truth and justice are also your best armor … Please do your best to defend yourself. and keep your sword and your armor. “
Chang Feng-lin is a university professor.
Translated by Edward Jones and Perry Svensson
Comments will be moderated. Keep comments relevant to the article. Comments containing abusive and obscene language, personal attacks of any kind or promotion will be removed and the user banned. The final decision will be at the discretion of the Taipei Times.