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China makes waves as UK plans freedom of navigation voyage

UK supercarrier HMS Queen Elizabeth may sail the South China Seas

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HMS Queen Elizabeth (Image from royalnavy.mod.uk)

HMS Queen Elizabeth (Image from royalnavy.mod.uk)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News)—China’s Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Lu Kang criticized plans by Britain to send its new aircraft carriers on freedom of navigation missions in the South China Sea.

On July 28, responding to a question on statements by British officials, China Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said that "some countries" from outside the region "insist on stirring up trouble while the situation is trending toward calm in the South China Sea."

"Regardless of what banner these countries or individuals fly under, or what excuses they may peddle, their record of the same kind of sanctimonious interference in the affairs of other regions, leaving behind chaos and humanitarian disaster, prompts countries in this region to maintain a high degree of vigilance," Lu said.

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson confirmed, following a high-level meeting in Sydney with his Australian counterpart, Julie Bishop, that freedom of navigation missions to the South China Sea would be near the top of deployment plans for the new carriers, the HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales.

According to the UK Ministry of Defense website, the Queen Elizabeth and the Prince of Wales are the biggest warships ever built for the Royal Navy "four acres of sovereign territory, deployable across the globe to serve the United Kingdom on operations for 50 years." The HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales are the most advanced warships in the Royal Navy fleet.

"One of the first things we will do with the two new colossal aircraft carriers that we have just built is send them on a freedom of navigation operation to this area to vindicate our belief in the rules-based international system and in the freedom of navigation through those waterways which are absolutely vital for world trade," Johnson said.

China has strongly objected to repeated freedom of navigation missions carried by the US Navy along with the presence of the navies of Japan, Australia and others in the South China Seas, through which an estimated $5 trillion in annual trade passes each year.

Currently on sea trials, HMS Queen Elizabeth is due to be handed over to the Royal Navy by the end of the year. Her maiden deployment is scheduled for 2021.


Updated : 2020-12-03 01:11 GMT+08:00