The British government said Wednesday it will hold regular joint military drills with Japan and the United States in the Indo-Pacific from next year as the nations respond to China's intensifying military activities.

British Defense Secretary Grant Shapps said the planned trilateral exercises would send "a strong message to anyone who would seek to undermine the rules-based international order."

"Our defense relationships are not limited by distance and we stand ready to respond to any threat around the globe," Shapps said in a statement.

Britain will send a carrier strike group, led by the aircraft carrier Prince of Wales, to the Indo-Pacific region. While there, it will make a port call in Japan, according to Shapps.

The British aircraft carrier Prince of Wales is pictured in December 2023 in Portsmouth, England. (Getty/Kyodo)

It will be the first time a British carrier strike group is dispatched to the region since 2021, when the Queen Elizabeth docked in Yokosuka, southwest of Tokyo.

The dispatch plan was agreed by Japanese and British prime ministers, Fumio Kishida and Rishi Sunak, in Hiroshima in May, when the western Japan city hosted a Group of Seven summit.

As concerns grow over Beijing's maritime assertiveness, London has been strengthening its commitment to the Indo-Pacific area and stepping up defense collaboration with like-minded countries, including Japan.

In its 2023 diplomacy and security policy guidelines, Britain said it would put its approach to the Indo-Pacific "on a long-term strategic footing" and make the region "a permanent pillar" of its international policies.

Japan and Britain, both close U.S. allies, have a reciprocal access agreement that came into effect in October, simplifying the process of unit deployment between their forces. They also have a three-way project with Italy to develop a next-generation fighter jet by 2035.

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