The aircraft carrier could face an encounter when it is deployed in the contested region. It will be escorted by two Type 45 destroyers, two Type 23 frigates, a nuclear submarine, a Tide-class tanker and RFA Fort Victoria.
China recently warned it would take the “necessary measures to safeguard its sovereignty”.
In 2017, then-Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, touted a potential deployment one of two new carriers on a freedom of navigation expedition.
The mission would see the warship sail through the disputed waters without suffering interference from other nations.
Charles Parton, OBE, senior associate fellow at Royal United Services Institute for Defence and Security Studies (RUSI), told the Telegraph on Tuesday the operation could present some risk to the British carrier.
He explained that due to a higher number of ships navigating “through the South China Sea we will see more tensions around them, and therefore a greater risk of an incident”.
Meia Nouwens, senior fellow for Chinese Defence Policy and Military Modernisation at The International Institute for Strategic Studies, told the Commons Defence Select Committee that Beijing’s “development of submersibles and unmanned underwater vehicles present an added challenge”.
She added: “We know China is developing these capabilities.
“Where this goes… will be an added challenge in terms of how we deal with grey zone tactics.”
Last week, fears of an all-out conflict the South China Sea surged after the Taiwanese Defense Ministry claimed to have spotted 11 Chinese jets on Saturday, including eight fighter aircraft, an anti-submarine aircraft and two nuclear-capable H-6 bombers, near the Pratas Islands.
Tensions between the two nations were already high as Beijing had been conducting drills in the disputed region on Friday.
Taiwan’s Defense Ministry said Beijing’s naval forces also took part in Saturday’s activity but did not explain further.
On Saturday, a spokesman for the US State Department reaffirmed previous calls for China “to cease its military, diplomatic and economic pressure against Taiwan.”
He added Beijing should “instead engage in meaningful dialogue with Taiwan’s democratically elected representatives.”
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