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HMS Queen Elizabeth to ‘stay away from Taiwan’ during South China Sea voyage

HMS Queen Elizabeth welcomed back to Portsmouth base

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The £3 billion Royal Navy vessel will sail on a controversial route North through the South China Sea to avoid provoking China. The decision was met with backlash from senior Tories, The Daily Telegraph has revealed.

Sir Iain Duncan Smith, former Conservative leader, told the newspaper: “I’m pleased the Aircraft Carrier is deploying in the South China Sea but they need to complete this process by letting the Chinese know that they disapprove of their very aggressive actions against their neighbours by sailing through the Taiwan Strait.

“I hope they will revisit their schedule, and ensure that this happens.”

Military chiefs hoped the new aircraft carrier strike group, led by HMS Queen Elizabeth, would deter any radical actions made by China and help to solidify international ties.

The military ship will sail through the Suez Canal and past Singapore before arriving in the region this summer.

As part of the Government’s 10-year defence strategy outlined back in March, Prime Minister Boris Johnson pledged to counter the “systemic challenge” posed by China.

However, Tories accused Johnson of “going soft” on China after promising to create deeper trade links.

The military ship will sail through the Suez Canal and past Singapore before arriving in the region this summer.

Tom Sharpe, a former Royal Navy officer said “the eyes of allies and adversaries alike” will be watching the deployment, expected in the coming weeks.

He added: “Get this deployment – and the messaging – right, and British hard and soft power will be increased.

“But get it wrong and Britain’s standing on the world stage could be diminished.”

As the HMS Queen Elizabeth passes strategic checkpoints it is expected to conduct military drills with Britain’s NATO and non-NATO allies.

It is expected to make a brief stop at Duqm, the UK’s base in Oman, and engage in light exercises with the INdian Navy as it transits the Indian Ocean.

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The voyage is expected to finish with two weeks of joint exercises with Japanese and American vessels.

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