Editor’s Note: Every Wednesday, WPR Newsletter and Engagement Editor Benjamin Wilhelm curates the week’s top news and expert analysis on China.
The United States and the United Kingdom conducted joint naval exercises in the South China Sea last week, their first such drills in the area since 2010. The operations were intended to push back on China’s assertive behavior in the region, including its militarization of nearby artificial islands, but analysts are skeptical that they will have much of an impact.
The U.S. Navy guided missile destroyer USS McCampbell and the Royal Navy frigate HMS Argyll practiced division tactics and conducted communication drills as well as a personnel exchange during the five-day exercise. In a press release, the U.S. Navy said the drills were meant “to address common security priorities.” Last August, the Royal Navy warship HMS Albion sailed near the Paracel Islands—territory occupied by China but also claimed by Taiwan and Vietnam—in a freedom of navigation exercise, prompting an angry response from Beijing. The U.S. Navy routinely conducts freedom of navigation operations in the disputed waters of the South China Sea.