During a visit to Australia, British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has said one of the first missions of the UK's new aircraft carriers will be in the disputed South China Sea. Jacob Greaves reports.
Fresh out of sea trials and sailing straight into a strategic hotspot. Once they're battle-ready, Britain plans to send its two massive new aircraft carriers to the South China Sea. (SOUNDBITE) (English) BRITISH FOREIGN MINISTER, BORIS JOHNSON, SAYING: "One of the first missions of our two vast new aircraft carriers will be to sail through the straits of mallaca the route that currently accommodates a quarter of global trade." Boris Johnson, the UK's Foreign Secretary, committing the ships to so called 'freedom of navigation exercises'. But they will also be heading into highly contested, highly militarised waters - and a potential showdown with Beijing. China's island building and militarisation in the South China Sea has alarmed Western powers. Britain's contribution might be some way off. The first seaworthy ship only now undergoing maiden trials off the coast of Scotland. But Johnson's statements come as he tours Australia and touts the role of a more global post-Brexit Britain. (SOUNDBITE) (English) BRITISH FOREIGN MINISTER, BORIS JOHNSON, SAYING: "Really it's to expand and to defend that idea of freedom under the law, that Britain and Australia committed to working hand in hand." A more militarily assertive Britain in the South China Sea will likely also please the U.S.. Another country the UK hopes to increase trade ties with. Currently the U.S. is the main Western power sailing military hardware in the region. A show of force from Britain might help buy a better friendship.