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South China Sea: China criticizes UK as Royal Navy ship sails in Taiwan Strait
Tensions are still evident surrounding Taiwan and the South China Sea as countries are looking to deter China’s increasing acts of aggression in an effort to assert control. Beijing has criticized the UK as its Royal Navy ship transits through the Taiwan Strait.
China was angered by the UK’s HMS Richmond ship that sailed through the Taiwan Strait on its way to Vietnam. The Chinese military followed the warship as it sailed through the region of the South China Sea. The HMS Richmond was deployed in the East China Sea as it participates in enforcing UN sanctions against North Korea.
Beijing said that the transit by the UK’s ship “harbored evil intentions.”
“This kind of behavior harbors evil intentions and damages peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait,” said the Chinese military.
The Times’ Defense editor Larisa Brown said that it was unusual for the Royal Navy to send a frigate or destroyer through the Taiwan Strait since 2008 when the HMS Kent went through the region of the disputed waters. A surveyor ship went through the Taiwan Strait in 2019.
This comes as tensions remain high regarding Taiwan, which China claims as a breakaway province, and has engaged in a pressure campaign to force the democratically-ruled island nation to submit to Beijing’s sovereignty. Taiwan has since resisted and was armed by the US against the rising threat, with US ships passing through the Taiwan Strait almost every month despite constant criticism from China.
Taiwanese defense minister Chiu Kuo-Chieng said that he was not aware of defense ships passing through the Taiwan Strait. However, Chiu said that foreign ships sail through the Taiwan Strait, and their military will be aware of the situation but will not interfere.
China is also at odds with Australia as of late, following the deal it has made with the US and the UK over nuclear-powered submarines that led to diplomatic backlash from France. The AUKUS deal is believed to be a response by Australia, the UK, and the US to China’s actions in the Indo-Pacific region. A senior Chinese diplomat has now said that China should abandon its “no-first use” policy on nuclear weapons as alliances begin to form in the region.