THE UK’s plan to build an Asian naval base is “clearly a muscle-flexing gesture targeting China”, according to an academic at an institute funded by China.
The UK has announced plans to establish a new Asian naval base. The base will likely be in Brunei or Singapore. It is a move Taiwan has welcomed but China is likely to lament.
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Responding to news of the plan, Xu Liping, a professor at the Institute of Asia-Pacific Studies under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the South China Morning Post: “It is clearly a muscle-flexing gesture targeting China and shows closer engagement of external powers in the South China Sea disputes.”
The Chinese Academy of Social Sciences is a state-funded institute, which admits its programmes are “both academic and policy-oriented”.
Xu’s comments came after Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson confirmed last week the UK aims to establish a new naval base somewhere in Asia in the coming years.
Mr Williamson said: “This is our biggest moment as a nation since the end of the Second World War.