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South China Sea: How Britain could play key role in US-China feud as conflict fears rise

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This is because as China’s rapid militarisation of the South China Sea gathers pace, the UK could lease one of its new super carriers to the US as President Donald Trump looks to expand his naval forces. According to recent reports, the British Army is said to be pushing for one of the Royal Navy’s brand new super carriers to be leased out to the US in a bid to garner extra cash for military funding. A Sunday Times report revealed that decision makers in the UK’s military could look to hand the US either HMS Prince of Wales or HMS Queen Elizabeth.

An unnamed source told the Sunday Times in November: “The army hates aircraft carriers, which they have always seen as a white elephant, but the Americans love them.

“They are cutting edge because they can operate with far fewer crew than US carriers.”

The reports were denied by the UK’s former Defence Secretary, Ben Wallace MP, who said: “This is total rubbish. There are no plans to shrink the armed forces. “There are however plans to increase army recruiting levels.”

However, reports of Government proposals to cut the UK’s defence budget have left the Royal Navy potentially needing to recover some funds.

This could benefit the US’ forces, who are desperately outgunned in the South China Sea as Beijing stamps its authority on key island clusters and lucrative shipping lanes.

President Xi Jinping has invested heavily in the Island chain in recent years, and may have built a domineering presence that can’t be challenged.

Described by many as “island fortresses”, China has engulfed the South China Sea with man-made island bases and has been accused of forming them specifically for military purposes.

The moving of its aircraft carriers, airstrips and weapons into the region has earned the cluster of bases the nickname: “The Great Wall of Sand.”

READ MORE: South China Sea: Beijing’s Soviet Union style military plan 

It also warned that given the turning tide in the region, increased aggression is risking conflict.

The Council of Foreign Relations added: “China has increasingly interfered with freedom of navigation, warning military and commercial vessels away from its artificial island bases.

“It has also harassed vessels belonging to regional claimants, conducted maritime surveys of dubious legality, and attempted dangerous manoeuvres with its own military craft.”

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