TAIPEI (Taiwan News)--The UK's Secretary of State for Defence Gavin Williamson was reported to have said that a British anti-submarine warship will sail through the contested South China Sea from Australia in March to assert navigation rights in South China Sea, an act that is anticipated to irritate Chinese authorities.
Apart from China, Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam also have claims to the energy-rich sea.
The Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) conducted an interview with Williamson as he wrapped up a two-day visit to Sydney and Canberra. In a Monday report about the interview, the ABC quoted Williamson as saying, “We've got HMS Sutherland currently approaching Australia and after she's been to Australia, she'll be going through the South China Sea."
"It's very important that we demonstrate that these are seas as anyone can pass through and we'll be making sure that the Royal Navy will protect those rights for international shipping as she goes to do joint operations with the Japanese, the Koreans and the United States Navy," Williamson was quoted by the ABC as saying.
However, the ABC report said that the visiting British Defence Secretary declined to say whether HMS Sutherland would sail within 12 nautical miles of a disputed territory or artificial island claimed by the Chinese as US warships have done.