China Warns Against Regional Deployment of HMS Queen Elizabeth
China has warned the UK goverment against becoming more active in the South China Sea. Any deployment of the aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth near the contested Spratly Islands could be seen as a “hostile action”, a Chinese spokesman said.
Speaking at the Defence Correspondents’ Association in London, China’s Ambassador to the UK Liu Xiaoming said deploying the largest aircraft carrier ever built for the Royal Navy may be seen as an aggressive action.
“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,” he said, according to the Daily Express.
He added that Beijing might be forced to respond militarily to HMS Queen Elizabeth’s deployment.
The Ministry of Defence plans to send the new aircraft carrier to the Asia Pacific region during her first operational deployment, which is scheduled for 2021.
The passage will see F-35 stealth jets from the U.S. Marine Corps embarked on the 65,000 ton ship.
The UK government is keen to assert Freedom of Navigation through international waters, alongside U.S. and Australian allies, but Liu rejected the argument the Royal Navy would be upholding international rules should the carrier enter Chinese territorial waters.
Maj. Gen. Su Guanghui, Beijing’s defense attaché to London, warned any British military cooperation with its traditional ally the U.S. would be considered “hostile,” the Daily Telegraph reported.