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