China warns Britain of severe consequences over UK Naval warship visit to South China Sea
China's Foreign Ministry said Friday that countries outside of the region should not stir up trouble in the South China Sea after Britain said it planned to send a warship to the area next year.
Chinese experts said that Britain may want to win support from the US in the wake of Brexit. But it is unwise for Britain's ruling party to make this move, which will undermine bilateral ties with China and possibly push China to strengthen cooperation with the EU instead of Britain.
Britain plans to send a warship to the disputed South China Sea in 2018 to conduct freedom of navigation exercises, Defense Minister Michael Fallon said on Thursday, Reuters reported.
"We hope to send a warship to region next year. We have not finalized exactly where that deployment will take place but we won't be constrained by China from sailing through the South China Sea," Fallon told Reuters.
Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang told a daily briefing on Friday that none of the recent remarks hyping up tensions on the South China Sea were made by relevant regional countries.
"While countries in the region are working together to promote peace, stability and prosperity, some countries outside the region are stirring up trouble. Whatever their excuses are, all countries and people in the region should be on the alert, considering the chaos and humanitarian disasters these countries have caused throughout history by interfering with other countries' affairs," Lu said.
"We have the right of freedom of navigation and we will exercise it … We flew RAF Typhoons through the South China Sea last October and we will exercise that right whenever we next have the opportunity to do so, whenever we have ships or planes in the region," Fallon was quoted by Reuters as saying.
His comments came after Britain's Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said the country's two new aircraft carriers would be sent to the region.
"Britain's move aims to show goodwill to the US - it is cooperating with the US on the South China Sea issue to contain China. Britain is trying to win US political and economic support after the UK's divorce with the EU," Zhao Junjie, a research fellow at the Institute of European Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times on Friday.
The US sent two bombers over the South China Sea in early July, just a few months after it sent a warship to carry out a maneuvering drill within 12 nautical miles of one of China's artificial islands, Reuters reported.
"Britain may shift its diplomatic policies from the [European] continent to the oceans after Brexit and it will seek disputed areas to show its presence, which will also give it bargaining chips when dealing with other affairs with relevant countries," Wang Xiaopeng, a maritime border expert at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times on Friday.
Wang said that the interference of outside countries, including the US and UK, would not change the stable and peaceful trend of solving the South China Sea issue as China and neighboring countries have established efficient communication channels and mechanisms to control disputes.
Zhao said that Britain wants to revive its old glory as Great Britain. "It wants to show the world that it has decision-making power and is stronger and more powerful after Brexit, but its decline cannot be concealed," Zhao said.
Zhao said that it is also an unwise decision for Britain's ruling party to send a warship to the South China Sea and it has no mature domestic or diplomatic policies.
"Britain is at a crucial stage in the Brexit process. It should try to win as much support from China, Russia and other powers, instead of alienating them. If Britain insists on implementing the plan, it will damage relations with China and China may take countermeasures, including shifting more of its investment to the EU," Zhao said.
The EU's top Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier on Wednesday briefed ambassadors from the 27 countries that will remain in the EU after Britain leaves in March 2019 on the outcome of the July round of the monthly divorce talks with London last week, Reuters reported on Thursday.