The UK has helped the US in trying to thwart China’s growing authority in the South China Sea, where they have engulfed contested island clusters with monstrous island fortresses. Hostility between China and the UK spiked in September this year, when Britain announced it would send its warship HMS Queen Elizabeth to the region, sparking fury in Beijing.
Major General Su Guanghui, China’s defence attache to Britain said at the time: “If the US and UK join hands in a challenge or violate the sovereignty and territorial integrity of China, that would be hostile action.”
The UK has periodically sent ships to the South China Sea to help other powers defy China’s controversial Nine-Dash Line claim.
In September 2018, a similar waters patrol was undertaken aboard the UK’s HMS Albion.
Tensions appeared to have spiralled out of control when Beijing sent a frigate and two helicopters to the region, suggesting a military challenge was imminent.
Beijing sent a chilling warning in response to the action though, telling those in London that “China will continue to take all necessary measures to defend its sovereignty and security.”
But the UK isn’t the only European country to undermine Beijing’s stubborn claim.
In September this year, France sent its frigate, Dixmude, to the highly contentious Spratly Islands, an area which the Philippines, Vietnam and Malaysia also have claims over.
The Nine-Dash Line claim highlights waters which China claims historical sovereignty over, although international bodies have ruled that the claim is illegitimate.