UK commits 'unbroken' naval presence in Asia Pacific
Patricia Lourdes Viray ( - August 17, 2018 - 3:07pm

MANILA, Philippines — Stressing its commitment to a rules-based order, the United Kingdom vowed to have an "almost unbroken" naval presence in the Asia Pacific region.

UK Foreign Office Minister Mark Field said London is backing the rules-based international system in Asia through security cooperation, humanitarian support and diplomacy.

In a forum on rules-based order in Taguig City, Field noted that the UK has deployed typhoon fighter jets to train with Japan, South Korea and Malaysia for the first time.

"We have also deployed two Royal Navy ships to the region — HMS Sutherland and Argyll and soon HMS Albion — meaning we will have an almost unbroken naval presence in the strategically critical Asia-Pacific this year," Field said in his speech.

The British minister reiterated London's call for all parties in the South China Sea to respect freedom of navigation and international law, including the July 2016 ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration.

"It is critical for regional stability, and for the integrity of the rules-based international system, that disputes in the region are resolved, not through force, militarization or coercion, but through dialogue and in accordance with international law," he said.

The UK minister also expressed its intent to strengthen relations with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, including the Philippines, after leaving the European Union.

"We want to work in partnership to uphold and strengthen the rules-based international system in Asia, as elsewhere," Field said.

Earlier, the UK declared that it would be sending warships to the South China China this year to challenge China's expanding militarization in the region.

During the Shangri-la Dialogue in June, UK Defense Minister William Gavinson noted that "increasingly aggressive states" have been ignoring agreed rules, which are threats to the rules-based order.

Without mentioning China, Williamson said some countries are "infringing regional access, freedoms and security through coercion."

"We have to make it clear that nations need to play by the rules and that there are consequences for it doing so," Williamson said.

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