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UK trying to strut on global stage after Brexit: observers

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The UK is trying hard to be a "core" nation on the global stage after Brexit by involving itself in the South China Sea with the US, Chinese observers said on Tuesday after the British defense secretary announced plans to sail a frigate into sovereign Chinese territory.

After Brexit, the UK is seeking to prevent its influence from decreasing in the world, said Cui Hongjian, director of the department of European Studies at the China Institute of International Studies.

The UK aims to be a global power, Cui said, noting that it tries to be the "core nation" by joining other Western nations in expressing an attitude toward China.

As long as the US sticks to hyping the South China Sea issue and its freedom of navigation, there is no doubt the UK will manage to get involved in different ways, Cui said.

Another anonymous military expert told the Global Times that the UK, together with the US and Australia were consistent with each other on the South China Sea issue. Although the UK has descended to a second-rate power, its navy and air force are still active, the expert said.

Anti-submarine frigate HMS Sutherland will sail from Australia through the strategic waters next month to assert freedom of navigation, The Guardian reported Tuesday, citing Defense Secretary Gavin Williamson. He would not say whether the frigate would sail within 12 nautical miles of the disputed territory or artificial island built by China, as US ships have done.

"We absolutely support the US approach on this," Williamson said.

The situation in the sea was improving steadily through joint efforts by countries in the region, Geng Shuang, China's foreign ministry spokesman told the press.

"We hope related countries, especially countries from outside the region will respect the efforts," Geng said.

The UK has changed its national focus from Europe to maritime issues after Brexit,   Wang Xiaopeng, a maritime border expert at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences told the Global Times on Tuesday.

As a historic maritime power, the UK was attempting to roll back the clock and demonstrate its military muscle in a geopolitical fight, Wang said.

"It is likely that the UK will join the US-led strategy in the waters, participated in by Japan, India and Australia," Hu Zhiyong, a research fellow at the Institute of International Relations of the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times on Tuesday.

China should be alert to their alliance as a clear attempt to curb China and complicate the South China Sea issue, Hu said. But China would stick to its position and fight back when the UK violated China's interests, he said.



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