The Royal Navy's new aircraft carrier strike group will take a controversial route to avoid provoking China on her first major voyage, The Telegraph can reveal. Although HMS Queen Elizabeth will sail through the South China Sea, a vital shipping route which Beijing has become increasingly assertive over in recent years, she will not sail through the Taiwan Strait, instead going east as she makes her way up to Japan for the final section of the trip. However, the decision not to sail the £3 billion warship through the strait on a voyage that will focus on freedom of navigation operations, has raised eyebrows due to Beijing’s vow to annex Taiwan, which it claims as its own territory. Sir Iain Duncan Smith, the former Conservative leader, said the Government and Royal Navy “need to rethink this journey”. He said: “I'm pleased the Aircraft Carrier is deploying in the South China Sea but they need to complete this process by letting the Chinese know that they disapprove of their very aggressive actions against their neighbours by sailing through the Taiwan Strait. I hope they will revisit their schedule, and ensure that this happens.” Tobias Ellwood, chairman of the Defence Select Committee, said the carrier strike group’s maiden voyage had been “rolled out as such an important statement of intent” and worried it could be “diminished” over “fear of offence”. Mr Ellwood said the “purpose” of the journey, pictured below, to the Indo Pacific “is to stand up to the authoritarianism of China”.