The chilling warning comes after suggestions the Royal Navy might send its new aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth with US jets onboard to seas off the contested Spratly Islands. The planned mission will see F-35 stealth jets from the US Marine Corps deployed on the 65,000 ton ship. But China’s ambassador to the UK, Liu Xiaoming, said Britain ”should not do this dirty job for somebody else”.
Britain should not do this dirty job for somebody else
Speaking at the Defence Correspondents’ Association in London, Mr Liu rejected claims the Royal Navy would be upholding international rules concerning Freedom of Navigation.
He said: “The South China Sea is a vast ocean, it is three million square kilometres wide, we have no objection to people sailing around there but do not enter Chinese territorial waters within 12 nautical miles.
“If you don’t do that, there shouldn’t be a problem. The South China Sea is wide enough to have free navigation of shipping.”
HMS Queen Elizabeth could be sent to the South China Sea
Chinese Defence Attaché Major General Su Guanghui warned: “If the US and UK join hands in a challenge or violated the sovereignty and territorial integrity of China, that would be hostile action.”
The Government insists it is opposed to “militarisation” of the South China Sea but said the aircraft carrier would still visit the South Pacific in 2021.
A spokesman said: “The UK has enduring interests in the region and is committed to maintaining regional security.
“The presence of international navies in the South China Sea is normal and the Royal Navy is no exception to this.
“We remain committed to asserting rights of freedom of navigation at sea and in the air as provided for by international law.”
The strategically significant Spratly and Paracel Islands are claimed by a number of nations including China, Vietnam and the Philippines.
The US navy conducts regular freedom of navigation operations in the South China Sea to challenge China’s territorial claim.
The region has been at the centre of an ongoing political and military struggle between Beijing and Washington.
Washington believes Beijing is illegally building military facilities and installations on some of the disputed islands while China accuses the US of bullying and provocation and Chinese military officials use sabre-rattling rhetoric.
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Read Admiral Lou Yuan of the Chinese Academy of Military Sciences told an audience that the South China Sea dispute could be easily solved with military means and claimed the solution was sinking two US Navy aircraft carriers to see off the US presence.
In a fiery speech on the state of Sino-US relations earlier this year, he claimed that the South China Sea was a “prime strategic issue” for Beijing and they should not back down.
Washington flexed their military muscles in the South China Sea in July when defence chiefs sent nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan to the Philippines.