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FACT CHECK: No UK warship deployed to West Philippine Sea


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FACT CHECK: No UK warship deployed to West Philippine Sea
The UK Navy’s HMS Queen Elizabeth is currently heading to the North Sea, not the West Philippine Sea, to lead an international Carrier Strike Group deployment

Claim: The United Kingdom will deploy the HMS Queen Elizabeth to the West Philippine Sea as a sign of support for the Philippines amid China’s harassment. 

Rating: FALSE

Why we fact-checked this:  The claim was made in an August 24 YouTube video posted by an account with 184,000 subscribers. As of writing, the video has 42,081 views and 2,000 likes.

At the 5:35 mark, the narrator of the video says: “Sinabi ng Defense Minister ng United Kingdom na si Ben Wallace na hindi katanggap-tanggap ang mga ginagawang panggigipit ng China sa maliliit na bansa sa Indo-Pacific region. At dahil dito, ipapadala ng kanilang bansa ang HMS Queen Elizabeth sa West Philippine Sea.”

(UK Defense Minister Ben Wallace said China’s actions in the Indo-Pacific region are unacceptable. Because of this, the UK will send the HMS Queen Elizabeth to the West Philippine Sea.)

The facts: Neither the UK nor Wallace has made any announcement that it will deploy the HMS Queen Elizabeth to the West Philippine Sea. No such statements can be found on the UK Department of Defense website nor the X (formerly Twitter) account of Wallace, who resigned from his post last August 31.

About the HMS Queen Elizabeth: The 65,000-ton aircraft carrier is the UK Navy’s flagship. On September 9, the HMS Queen Elizabeth sailed from Portsmouth and is heading to the North Sea and North Atlantic to lead a Carrier Strike Group deployment alongside NATO allies to reinforce peace and security in the region. 

UK and the Philippines: The HMS Queen Elizabeth entered the South China Sea last October 2021 as part of a carrier strike group to demonstrate freedom of navigation in the disputed waters. It also aimed to promote closer relations between the Philippines and the UK, Inquirer.net reported.

The UK has emphasized the importance of abiding by maritime law, including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). In a July 2023 statement, the UK said it “strongly opposes any claims that are not consistent with UNCLOS.” UNCLOS is the basis of the 2016 Hague ruling which invalidated China’s sweeping claims over the entire South China Sea.

Earlier this month, the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) said the UK and the Philippines are eyeing joint maritime exercises. While discussions are still at the preliminary stage, UK Foreign Secretary James Cleverly reportedly gave assurances during his courtesy visit last August that the UK will continue to support the PCG.

These discussions came amid renewed tensions between Manila and Beijing following Chinese harassment of Philippine vessels in the West Philippine Sea last August.

Previous false claims: Rappler has debunked false claims regarding other countries supposedly deploying military assets to the West Philippine Sea:

 – Adrienne Juanengo/Rappler.com

Adrienne Juanengo is a 3rd year Legal Management student at De La Salle University, who is volunteering under Rappler’s Research Unit. 

This fact check was reviewed by a member of Rappler’s research team and a senior editor. Learn more about Rappler’s fact-checking mentorship program here.Keep us aware of suspicious Facebook pages, groups, accounts, websites, articles, or photos in your network by contacting us at factcheck@rappler.com. Let us battle disinformation one Fact Check at a time.

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