TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — China bristled at the sight of a British Royal Navy warship sailing through the Taiwan Strait on Monday (Sept. 27), saying the act "harbored evil intentions."
In a tweet, the Royal Navy said the HMS Richmond, a frigate that is part of an aircraft carrier strike group, was sailing through the strait Monday on a course for Vietnam, where it had arranged a rendezvous with the Vietnamese navy, according to a CBS report.
“After a busy period working with partners and allies in the East China Sea, we are now en route through the Taiwan Strait to visit #Vietnam and the Vietnam People's Navy,” the tweet said, adding the hashtag for its carrier group “#CSG21” plus the words “International by design.”
Taiwan’s Minister of National Defense Chiu Kuo-cheng (邱國正) acknowledged the presence of the vessel on Monday, noting that Taiwan monitors all foreign aircraft and ships that pass through the strait.
China was cool in its initial response to the Richmond’s passage, with foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying (華春瑩) saying Beijing hoped "the relevant countries can do more to build mutual trust between countries and uphold peace and security in the region."
Yet it was not long before the Chinese military turned up the temperature, saying it had sent air force and naval assets to shadow the Richmond and warned it to get out of the Strait, per reports.
"This kind of behavior harbors evil intentions and damages peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait," the Chinese army's Eastern Theater Command said. "Theater command forces always maintain a high level of alert and resolutely counter all threats and provocations."
For years, it was mainly the U.S. that was willing to take Beijing’s heat for sailing through the strait, but a growing number of Washington’s allies have also begun transiting the route. The British, Canadian, French, and Australian navies have all passed through the strait in recent times, provoking Beijing’s ire.