Indian missile destroyer heads to South China Sea amid unprecedented tensions

Chinese military ‘live-fire exercise’ in South China Sea in May

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Four ships will be sent on a two-month mission to southeast Asia, the South China Sea and the western Pacific, according to the navy who released a statement on Wednesday. The ships include a guided missile destroyer and a missile frigate.

“The deployment of the Indian Navy ships seeks to underscore the operational reach, peaceful presence and solidarity with friendly countries towards ensuring good order in the maritime domain,” the navy statement read.

The two-month deployment will also include exercises with the Quad alliance, including the US, Japan and Australia, according to India’s Defence Ministry.

“These maritime initiatives enhance synergy and coordination between the Indian Navy and friendly countries, based on common maritime interests and commitment towards Freedom of Navigation at sea,” the statement added.

The Quad alliance of the US, Japan, India and Australia is the US President’s initiative to subdue China’s territorial claims.

READ MORE: China fires warning shot to Joe Biden over Vietnam power play

China claims most of the 1.3 million square mile South China Sea and India is the latest country to send ships into the area.

The UK’s aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth entered the South China Sea last week but it is not expected to sail close to the disputed Spratly and Paracel Islands.

The aircraft carrier will carry out navigational operations alongside US ships.

“It’s no secret that China shadows and challenges ships transiting international waters on very legitimate routes,” Ben Wallace, UK defence secretary, told the Times.

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“We will respect China and we hope that China respects us . . . we will sail where international law allows.”

On Monday, a German warship, the Bayern, was dispatched and is set to pass though the South China sea during its six-month Indo-Pacific mission.

It is expected to pass through the South China Sea in December.

“The message is clear: we are standing up for our values and interests together with our partners and allies,” Defence Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer told Reuters.

“For our partners in the Indo-Pacific, it is a reality that sea routes are no longer open and secure, and that claims to territory are being applied by the law of might is right.”

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