The UK military intends to send new aircraft carrier Queen Elizabeth to the Asia Pacific as tensions with Beijing continue to rise, The Times newspaper reported, citing sources.

According to the newspaper, the carrier is expected to start its voyage within a carrier strike group in early 2021. The ship's crew comprises almost 700 people, while together with crews of fighter jets and helicopters it might amount to 1,600 people.

The ship, which cost the UK authorities about $3.9 billion, will depart from the UK with two squadrons of F-35B Lightning II fighter jets aboard, the media said.

The vessel is set to visit the Far East and conduct military exercises with allies, including the United States and Japan.

Plans to send the aircraft carrier to the Asia Pacific region are being considered as part of the review of the UK foreign and security strategy. 

Philippines Strongly Supports US Position on South China Sea, Defence Ministry Says

The Philippines has expressed strong support for the latest position voiced by the United States regarding the territorial claims in the South China Sea, the country’s Department of National Defence said in a statement on Tuesday.

“We strongly agree with the position of the international community that there should be a rules-based order in the South China Sea,” the statement said in response to the US position on maritime claims in the South China Sea.

The statement also urged China to comply with the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) ruling, which supported the Philippines in its territorial claim in the sea.

According to the statement, the Philippines plans to push for the finalization of a substantive Code of Conduct in the South China Sea to settle disputes and prevent the escalation of tensions in the region.

The response from the Philippines came after US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo issued a harsh statement on Monday calling most of China’s claims in the sea “completely unlawful.”

The Chinese Embassy in Washington responded in a statement saying that China “firmly opposed” the latest statement from Pompeo.