The U.S. and British defense brass met to focus on topics including security and stability in the Indo-Pacific region.
In a statement Monday (July 12, 2021), U.S. Defense Department spokesman Kirby said Defense Secretary Austin and visiting British Defense Secretary Wallace met the same day at the Pentagon, during which Austin pledged to continue consultations with the U.K. on major issues such as the U.S. Defense Strategic Review, while Wallace highlighted the U.K.’s investment in defense modernization efforts and its increased focus on the Indo-Pacific region.
During their joint meeting with reporters, Wallace said, “On China, Britain stands shoulder to shoulder with the United States to ensure that our alliances in the Pacific waters are protected by international law and that the values we represent are upheld.”
In May, Britain sent the Royal Navy’s flagship aircraft carrier, HMS Queen Elizabeth, to the Asian region. Prime Minister Johnson said the carrier battle group will reflect British values and military capabilities, and the deployment of the carrier to the Asia-Pacific region is to show countries such as China that Britain believes in the international law of the sea.
Johnson had announced in March this year that Britain had reconsidered its place in the world order after Brexit and that the Indo-Pacific region would become a focus of British defense and foreign policy.
In response to China’s increasingly aggressive posture in the South China Sea and East China Sea and other waters, the U.S. and its allies have been conducting joint military exercises from time to time in addition to freedom of navigation operations in the South China Sea.
A Pentagon statement Monday said the U.S. and Britain are looking forward to deepening defense cooperation and signing an agreement to extend for another year a letter of intent to increase cooperation between the two militaries in carrier operations and maritime force projection.
China has consistently opposed the strengthening of Western military alliances in the Indo-Pacific region, saying such “ganging up” should not harm the security interests of third parties.