“We’re at a high state of combat readiness’ – China warns UK as its Navy ship, HMS Elizabeth worth £3b approaches South China Sea
China has warned the UK’s Carrier Strike Group, led by the aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth not to carry out any “improper acts” as it enters the very much contested South China Sea.
The British Royal Navy has been carrying out exercises with the Singaporean navy called the “Freedom of Navigation” exercise through the South China Sea.
Despite a 2016 international court ruling, China claims much of the South China Sea as its own and has been busy building artificial reefs and runways, some of them close to the territorial waters of neighbouring states like Japan, Philippines, Taiwan etc.
Both the US, EU and Royal Navy warships have recently challenged China’s claims to sovereignty in the South China Sea by purposely sailing through it.
China has been closely monitoring the sailing progress of the Carrier Strike Group, which is currently sailing through the South China Sea en route to Japan while accusing Britain of “still living in its colonial days”.
‘The People’s Liberation Army Navy is at a high state of combat readiness’ says the Chinese Government-owned Global Times, the major newspaper used as mouthpiece of the ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
“Do not to carry out any improper acts”
The PLA Navy will use the UK’s Carrier Strike Group’s presence in the South China Sea “as a chance for practice and for studying the UK’s latest warships up close”, says the Global Times.
It quotes a spokesman for the Chinese embassy in London as saying: “The threat to freedom of navigation could only come from the one who deploys a carrier strike group to the South China Sea half a world away and flexes its naval muscles to heighten the military tension in that region.”
Meanwhile, China has been holding extensive military exercises in the region this week, practising beach assaults in a move that has worried some analysts it is preparing to eventually invade Taiwan.
The deployment of HMS Queen Elizabeth and its escort ships to East Asia is seen as part of the British government’s bid to play a more prominent role in global security as China’s growing military and economic power appears unstoppable.