China's chilling warning to Royal Navy over HMS Queen Elizabeth's mission

CHINA has warned Britain off sending warships to the South China Sea, saying it would take ‘necessary measures to safeguard its sovereignty’.

Saturday, 2nd January 2021, 12:10 pm
Updated Saturday, 2nd January 2021, 12:17 pm

The call comes as the UK’s newest aircraft carrier, HMS Queen Elizabeth, prepares to deploy to the region for her first operational mission later this year.

The Portsmouth-based warship is expected to be accompanied by city-based destroyers, frigates and support ships.

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Norwegian anti-submarine frigate HNoMS Thor Heyerdahl joined the UK's carrier strike group as it transits east across the Atlantic following deployment to the USA. The frigate joined HMS Queen Elizabeth, fellow submarine hunter HMS Northumberland and tanker RFA Tideforce. This image was part of the winning selection by Photographer of the Year Leading Photographer Kyle Heller.

But tensions between China and the West over Beijing's increased military presence in the South China Sea – a critical shipping lane – have continued to simmer.

America often sends ships through the region to challenge China’s claim on the area. It’s thought HMS Queen Elizabeth could make a similar passage when she heads east.

At a monthly press conference in Beijing, Chinese defence ministry spokesman Tan Kefei was asked about the plans, the South China Morning Post reports.

‘The Chinese side believes that the South China Sea should not become a sea of great power rivalry dominated by weapons and warships’, he said. ‘The Chinese military will take necessary measures to safeguard its sovereignty, security and development interest as well as peace and stability in the South China Sea.’

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