China has been building up its defences in the South China Sea to ward off any attack on the disputed waters which they claim to own. But associate Fellow with the Asia-Pacific Programme at Chatham House, Bill Hayton, has said President Xi Jinping faces domestic issues more than attacks in the region. Speaking to Express.co.uk, Mr Hayton said: “There isn’t really any threat at all to China in the South China Sea which is why I find its actions difficult to understand.
“I think it’s biggest threats are domestic in terms of making sure its own people are happy.
“Nobody has anybody desire to invade China. All we see is coastal countries like Vietnam and the Philippines trying to protect their fishing, oil, and gas industries and ships from foreign countries sailing through the South China Sea.
“I don’t think there’s really a threat to China from the sea at the moment.
“It’s more China is taking this assertive, maybe even aggressive role towards its neighbours and other countries and that’s creating push back.”
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Former Conservative leader Iain Duncan Smith has said he believes he has become the target of a “direct threat” from the Chinese government.
Mr Duncan Smith said his work with the Interparliamentary Alliance on China made him a target.
Sir Iain told the Commons: “I understand now there is intelligence from the Five Eyes sources that there is now a very active and direct threat from the Chinese government aimed directly at the co-chairs of the Interparliamentary Alliance on China.
“Some of these co-chairs, of which I am one, have now been warned by their intelligence services in receipt of this that they should be very careful and that they will be supported.
“Can I ask (Mr Cleverly) if his Government is in receipt of this same intelligence and if so, why have they not informed the co-chairs and others here in the UK like other allies have done?”
Foreign Office minister James Cleverly replied: “He will understand that we don’t discuss on the floor of the Chamber intelligence-related issues, but I take the point that he makes about making sure that people who are potentially a target of overseas intelligence actions are given the opportunity to defend themselves against those.”
On the Microsoft Exchange hack, Sir Iain had earlier said: “This is the latest form of Chinese attacks, not a one-off on the West, which has included espionage, economic sanctions against Australia, wolf warrior diplomacy, and its naval aggression in the South China Sea, but to name a few.
Britain said on Tuesday it would permanently deploy two warships in Asian waters after its Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier and escort ships sail to Japan in September through seas where China is vying for influence with the United States and Japan.
Plans for the high-profile visit by the carrier strike group come as London deepens security ties with Tokyo, which has expressed growing alarm in recent months over China’s territorial ambitions in the region, including Taiwan.
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“Following on from the strike group’s inaugural deployment, the United Kingdom will permanently assign two ships in the region from later this year,” Britain’s defence minister, Ben Wallace, said in a joint announcement in Tokyo with his Japanese counterpart, Nobuo Kishi.
After their arrival in Japan, Kishi said, HMS Queen Elizabeth and its escort ships would split up for separate port calls to the US and Japanese naval bases along the Japanese archipelago.
In a statement on the deployment, a Pentagon spokesperson congratulated Britain for its “commitment to an interconnected network of allies and partners, who mutually cooperate and support freedom of navigation and a rules-based order in the Indo-Pacific region.”
A close US ally, Japan hosts the biggest concentration of US military forces outside the United States, including ships, aircraft, and thousands of Marines.